Throughout my teacher training last year, I was committed to the idea that more people should have access to yoga. Yoga classes in many studios are not cheap, and can be physically difficult for people of different sizes, shapes, abilities and ages. Yoga classes for the general public can also be difficult for those who have experienced trauma or have mental health issues. Knowing this, I decided to make yoga service a part of my work. Yoga service is the way to intentionally bring the practice of yoga in a way that promotes inclusion. It may be to a specific population of people, or to the general community.
Once I started on my yoga service journey, I learnt three things: start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.
Start where you are
Initially I had a lot of commitments that stopped me from getting involved in yoga service. Then one day I realised that if I don’t start now, when will I?
I explored local groups or clubs that might benefit from yoga, and also considered how to make general community yoga classes accessible alongside the other yoga classes I was offering. I knew there were groups that could truly benefit from participating in yoga, but I decided to reach out to the local school for students with disabilities that I was already teaching at. The Assistant Principal at the school was really excited about yoga classes and immediately had a class in mind I could teach.
Use what you have
I have a tendency towards ‘Imposter Syndrome’. I consistently feel that I have no right to be teaching yoga to anyone, and feel my yoga teaching skills and knowledge aren’t enough. However, through my teaching experience I have come to acknowledge these thoughts and then set them aside. I may never be “enough” to offer everything that people need, but that shouldn’t stop me from using what I have to be of service to others.
Yoga service has taught me a lot, but one of my greatest lessons is to reflect on what is working and what might need to change, and to remain flexible to adjust sessions as I need to over time.
Do what you can
If we consider all the opportunities to provide yoga service, we can very quickly be overwhelmed. The key is to start with just one commitment. Ask yourself, what is possible given my other existing commitments right now? What limitations are there? It is essential to be honest with yourself. I didn’t know how these classes were going to work (for me or the students), so I participated in one program to see how it went. That gave me a clear point to reflect and re-evaluate.
We can’t predict what might come about in our yoga service journey, but we can all start where we are, use what we have, and do what we can to bring the benefits of yoga to more people.