Everyone always says that yoga is for everybody and every body, and these organizations, studios, and teachers are making it a reality!
Check out these crazy inspiring organizations and teachers below, and find out what they're all about.
1. Yoga for the Special Child
Yoga for the Special Child is an international program developed in Evanston, Illinois by Sonia Sumar. Initially developed to help babies with disabilities, the program has grown to a worldwide practice.
Yoga for the Special Child is gentle and therapeutic, which means it's safe for babies and children with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Microcephaly, Autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD and Learning Disabilities.
Find Yoga for the Special Child here!
2. Piedmont Yoga Community
Piedmont Yoga Community caters to a wide variety of students, some whom arrive in wheelchairs, using walkers, canes, or crutches as well as those with invisible special needs. Some of their current students are paraplegics, many with esoteric autoimmune diseases, others who have post polio syndrome, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, osteogenesis imperfecta, scleroderma, hip or knee replacements, cancer, traumatic brain injury, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, and other side effects from diabetes.
No one is ever turned away for lack of funds, and so teachers and assistants are mostly volunteering their time.
Find this awesome yoga community here.
3. Yoga Circle
Yoga Circle, which opened its doors 25 years ago, offers a full spectrum of yoga classes, private lessons, workshops, retreats, and therapeutics. Open daily, they're able to welcome people from all walks of life to their studio.
Director Gabriel Halpern and teacher Cathy Welfare work with various organizations to offer yoga to adults and children with Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, learning disabilities, and more. Other teachers also come to the studio to offer these services.
Check out this awesome studio here!
4. Shakti Bell
Yoga teacher Shakti Bell's classes are designed to bring yoga to populations that may have had difficulties accessing yoga. She became a yoga teacher after living with disability herself and finding the healing benefits of yoga. She says, "I usually don’t move especially quickly, navigating in a wheelchair or simply crawling to reach students. Those who have practiced with me know that nobody is ignored or left behind."
Find this amazing teacher here!
5. Inclusive Yoga/All Ability Yoga
All Ability Yoga was founded on the core principle that yoga should be accessible to everyone. They promote specialized yoga classes and teacher trainings in adaptive yoga, but they are mosty focused on having yoga classes in studios and gyms where yogis in wheelchairs and disabilities can join in with able-bodied yogis.
Founding members of All Ability Yoga, quadriplegic Tami Ridley and yoga instructors Sherry Zak Morris, Pinush Choubrn, and Sage Bova are extremely motivated to make all classes accessible to everyone!
Find out more about Inclusive Yoga and All Ability Yoga here.
6. Accessible Yoga
Accessible Yoga is dedicated to sharing the benefits of yoga with anyone who currently does not have access to these teachings, and with communities that have been excluded or under-served. This organization believes that all people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient teachings of yoga.
They organize Accessible Yoga conferences and teacher trainings, which support those who wish to expand access to the teachings of yoga for people with disabilities, chronic illness, seniors, and for anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class. They also have scholarships for ambassadors to come to the conference.
Check out this amazing organization right here!
7. Accessible Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT)
Accessible Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) is a two-part Integral Yoga teacher training certification program specifically designed for training people with disabilities to become yoga teachers. It is the only program in the U.S. that meets national standards and focuses on being available to people who have paralysis, a disability, chronic illness, or physical limitation.
Applicants with and without disabilities are welcome.
If this sounds great to you, find out more here!
8. Mind Body Solutions
Mind Body Solutions is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) with a mission to transform trauma, loss, and disability into hope and potential by awakening the connection between mind and body, but they're best known for adapting yoga for persons living with disabilities. Yoga styles taught include Iyengar, Hatha, Viniyoga, Gentle, and Meditation/Breathwork.
Founded by Matthew Sandford after a car crash left him paralyzed from the chest down — he used yoga to reconnect his mind and body and is on a mission to help others to do the same — both able-bodied and not. He says that yoga is, “being able to work with integrity within the body you have, without attachment to the way that you think that the pose should look.”
Find Mind Body Solutions here!
9. Adaptive Expeditions
Not just yoga — this non-profit helps individuals with physical and visual disabilities experience the health benefits of sport activities, including yoga, surfing, sailing, kayaking, cycling, swimming and programs related to natural history.
Adaptive Expeditions in funded by the city of Charleston, South Carolina (where it's based), Gaiam, and Give Back Yoga. It sounds like the perfect program to us!
Check out this amazing organization here.
10. Sangha Yoga Institute: School of Higher Learning
Founded by Karina Minsky, who has worked as a disabilities massage therapist, Sangha Yoga Institute: School of Higher Learning is committed to extending the teachings of yoga and meditation to all students, regardless of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, or religion.
Through a heavy focus on all Eight Limbs of Yoga, those with physical difficulties can still experience the full benefits of yoga.
Find the Sangha Yoga Institute here!
11. Yoga for Amputees
Yoga for Amputees is a yoga and training program for amputees and professionals working with amputees, designed to guide amputees back to their essential wholeness so that they can experience the healing power of yoga as a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual practice.
Marsha Therese Danzig, Yoga Teacher, RYT 500, M.ed Harvard, is a below knee amputee and is also the founder of Yoga for Amputees® by Marsha T Danzig, a program to help amputees move forward in their lives through the healing power of yoga.
Check out this amazing program here!
12. Yoga for All
Most teacher training programs don’t teach us what to do with larger students, injured students, or disabled students. To help with this, yoga teacher Dianne Bondy founded Yoga for All, an online teaching program.
At the end, you'll be able to make your classes more positive, welcoming, and accessible.
Check it out here!
13. Ela Wojtowicz
Elizabeth Wojtowicz weighed one pound five ounces when she was born three-and-a-half months premature. As an effect of her prematurity, she has grown up with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that affects her balance. She has used crutches to help her ever since she can remember.
Her mission is to help those that have a physical challenge or limitation realize that their physical challenge is not what defines them.
Find this wonderful teacher here!
Are you feeling totally inspired by the future of accessible yoga? We definitely are! Share who you think is changing the face of yoga in the comments below!
Title Image Credit: All Ability Yoga