What is Accessible Yoga?
"Accessible Yoga believes that all people—regardless of ability or background—deserve equal access to yoga. Through education and advocacy, we share the teachings and benefits of yoga with those who have been marginalized." (Accessible Yoga)
Accessible Yoga is a foundation and style of yoga created by Jivana Heyman, C-IAYT, RYT-500. Jivana turned to yoga during a tumultuous time in his life own and, in turn, brought yoga into spaces and communities of marginalized demographics. Realizing the need to make yoga accessible to literally every body, he began training other teachers in this modality. Today, his Accessible Yoga program includes an international collective of Accessible Yoga Teachers. Accessible Yoga is truly the heart and practice of yogic philosophy in action.
In an Accessible Yoga class, the instructor is mindful of the "essence," or purpose, of each pose and selectively modifies the posture to accommodate any ability or body-type. The poses may look vastly different in each person's body. One variation of the pose isn't "better" or "more correct" than another. They are all, simply, what is best in each individual's body. Accessible Yoga allows every student the opportunity to practice to the maximum benefit and the fullest expression of the poses for their bodies.
In short, Accessible Yoga is yoga that accommodates any level, ability, and body. An accessible yoga class may have people practicing at many different levels of experience and with a variety of modifications. Students may be practicing from chairs, at the wall, standing on a mat, or even lying down, depending on what is accessible to them and what feels best in their bodies.
Unfortunately, mainstream media often markets yoga exclusively to able-bodied demographics (Thomas, 2019). This often dissuades, not only disabled individuals, but individuals who don't consider themselves flexible-enough, or fit enough, to do yoga. Reina et al. found that yoga is beneficial for many different populations, including students with physical, as well as intellectual disabilities (2020). In fact, yoga has many different applications across a broad variety of demographics that improve overall functional fitness, emotional wellness, and quality of life (Telles, 1997).
Accessible Yoga isn't *just* for folks with disabilities, chronic illness, or recovering from injury. Due to the adaptive nature of this practice, Accessible Yoga is literally for ALL BODIES. There is also a trauma-informed component to any Accessible Yoga class. See more about Trauma-Informed Yoga here.
Accessible Yoga. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2023, from https://www.accessibleyoga.org/
Reina, A. M., Adams, E. V., Allison, C. K., Mueller, K. E., Crowe, B. M., van Puymbroeck, M., & Schmid, A. A. (2020).
Yoga for Functional Fitness in Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. International journal of yoga, 13(2), 156–159. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_57_19
Telles, S., & Naveen, K. V. (1997). Yoga for rehabilitation: an overview. Indian journal of medical sciences, 51(4), 123–127.
Thomas, E. V., Warren-Findlow, J., & Webb, J. B. (2019). Yoga is for every (able) body: A content analysis of disability themes
within mainstream yoga media. International journal of yoga. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329228/