The purpose of yoga is to learn more about yourself so that you can live a more meaningful and honest life. It is about wellness. Unfortunately, in this culture there is the misconception that yoga is associated with beauty. Fashion and beauty companies want you to think that yoga is about looking a certain way and wearing certain clothes. Many people believe this to be true. Even some teachers can fall into this trap at times, including myself.
If you think of a yogi, what do you think of? It is probably one type of body, skin color, and gender. Google image search “yoga” and see what happens. Do any of those yogis look different? Probably not. This perpetuates the untrue idea that yoga is only for certain people. Anyone can practice yoga and it is our job as teachers to be inclusive. The only way to do this is to analyze our own biases so that we are aware of them.
Yoga is about getting on the road to self-acceptance. This is hindered by limiting the concept of what a “yogi” is. Yoga is about wellness, not beauty, and is something that everyone can participate in. Students, I ask you to keep going to class and practicing at home even when it's difficult. If you feel a place is unsafe then go somewhere else. You will find a teacher who is able to hear you and honor you if you keep looking. Teachers, ask yourself how you present yoga and if it is in the most inclusive way possible. It is only teachers who can change this unjust system.
More information about inclusivity and yoga is available at