Is Your Yoga Studio Really for Everyone?

Via Anna Guest-Jelley
on Dec 14, 2010
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I love the idea of yoga for everyone.

Of course.

And apparently, I’m not the only one.

I can’t even tell you how many studios I’ve seen that advertise about yoga for everyone or every body.  But I can tell you how many I’ve seen that live up to that:

Not many.

That’s right; I’ve rarely been to a studio that truly targets and attracts a wide variety of students.  Of course, there are larger forms of discrimination at work that sometimes prevent this from happening, but I’ve found even an effort at broad diversity to be lacking in many cases.

In order for you to look into this, too, I’ve prepared a handy “is everyone actually here” checklist (aka the “is it even possible for a representative from everyone to be here” checklist).

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

  1. Beginners need a yoga teaching certificate: If a beginning practice involves Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose), give your studio a second glance.  I literally just saw this in an advertisement yesterday.  I wish I was making that up.

  3. Taste the rainbow: You walk in the studio, and everyone is white, young, and seemingly able-bodied.  Um, “Houston, we have a problem.”

  5. Junk in the trunk: And no, I don’t mean a small “pooch,” whatever that means (especially if it means a Labradoodle).  No, I’m talking about even seeing some average-sized people in there (btw, average for women in the US is size 14, not 4, contrary to popular belief).

  7. Class rate = mortgage: If your class drop-in rate is $25, “everyone” might find it difficult to participate.  My sister told me that her local studio recently dropped their student rates completely and raised their drop-in rate to $25.  I love yoga, but there is no way I’d pay $25 for one regular weekly class.  No.  Way.

That’s just a few to get us started.  What would you add to the list?  Do you think it’s helpful to talk about (and advertise) yoga for “everyone?”


About Anna Guest-Jelley

Anna Guest-Jelley is an advocate for women’s rights by day, a yoga teacher by night, and a puppies’ mama all the time. She is making her way through life with joy, curves and all. Visit her at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.


7 Responses to “Is Your Yoga Studio Really for Everyone?”

  1. Martin says:

    Amen on the 25 bucks.

  2. Barbara says:

    Anna, do you have some suggestions? We are offering Gentle, Chair, Therapeutic, Restorative and a new class for arthritis and fibromyalgia in addition to standard studio classes. Several of our students are refugees from studios where they got hurt physically or emotionally. The students who have shown up are shaping the kind of yoga we teach and that includes making yoga helpful to people with joint replacements. If you have some ideas, please share them.

  3. Brandi says:

    i'm so proud to attend a privately owned studio that incorporates ALL levels, ALL ages, ALL sizes, and ALL colors. we are also setting up classes for adults with special needs next year. additionally, it's one of the cheapest yoga studios i've heard of. $39/month for unlimited yoga! that's cheaper than the average gym membership.

  4. That sounds amazing, Brandi! It's wonderful to hear of places that are making yoga accessible in a variety of ways. Yay!

  5. Yogini33# says:

    Related to #1 above, about 20 years ago it was the dying era of the Mixed Level class that didn't have the words in their ad, "Beginners not welcome" – even for a mellow hatha class. There are many reasons a beginner, advanced beginner, or intermediate(-if-stretching-it) would take someone's mixed level (all level) class …

    In one fell swoop, the teacher of the class like that in #1 is discouraging:

    a) Primarily home practitioners, whether or not on a tight budget ["home practice" has gotten mildly expensive/high tech for some, btw – with those high-speed streamings and flat-screen TVs] We get our inspiration from a class like in #1 …
    b) Possible business for their workshops [the ones geared to non-yoga-teachers, of course]
    c) Word-of-mouth possibility ("beginners" could be advanced meditators or advanced pilates practitioners, or … who'da thunk it? … have friends and acquaintances)
    d) Oh, yeah, the privates. Some beginners have excess cash, too!

    Yoga teachers think up new ways to be elitist and exclusionary every single day …

  6. OMG, LotusMama! I've heard that codespeak so many times, too. Great addition to the list!

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