Yoga For Community
The past year, I have been fortunate to teach yoga to individuals who are less likely or unlikely to have access to a yoga class or to a studio in their neighborhood compared to others who have the income to attend regular classes and to afford classes/class packages. The past few months while teaching local free or donation-based classes, I have asked myself time and again: "What is community yoga? What does it mean? As a yoga teacher, how do I teach community yoga? Is the term accurate or appropriate? What can studios or organizations do to address the needs of populations of people from diverse backgrounds who can benefit from yoga and its health and wellness benefits?"
The answers to these questions may be too extensive to address in the span of this blog, although some key points come to mind. Awareness of economic and social disparities, the needs of impoverished or marginalized communities helps one to gain perspective on one of the primary purposes of yoga-- to liberate, to integrate, to join. Taking into account these central tenets of the practice, the application of implementing yoga as a tool for social change becomes less ambiguous. With more clarity a teacher is able to recognize that there are dire needs in our communities, among our high-needs schools, among veterans, in the prisons, in our neighborhood. Many are doing the work and teaching among disadvantaged populations. Yoga is too much a transformational healing tool to reinforce insularity, economic and social homogeneity, and separation of the 'haves' and the 'have nots.' Community yoga is indeed yoga for everyone, accessible to everyone, not only at the economic level, but as an all-inclusive differentiated form of wellness and education of the empowered mind, body, and heart on local, community, and global scales.