Dianne Bondy on why representation + diversity matter

For more than twenty years, Dianne Bondy has been leading a yoga revolution: empowering students to come as they are, educating teachers on the need for inclusivity and leading systematic change within the yoga industrial complex. With Dianne, we’ve found a kindred spirit wanting to shake up the stereotypes and create space for every body – regardless of shape, size, age, ethnicity or ability – to practise yoga.

Dianne is teaching a weekend of workshops entitled ‘bridging the divide: yoga, social justice, redefining body image + personal power’ at our Camden centre in August 2019. (Booking details are shared below.) Ahead of this, her first visit to triyoga, she shares some thoughts on why representation and diversity matter.  

As an abundant-bodied yoga teacher of colour, people are still surprised to hear that I teach yoga. They often say to me, “You do yoga?” and I say, “Yes I do yoga, and yoga is for everyone even though we don’t always see everyone represented.”

Representation matters a lot. Why does representation matter?

Representation matters because diversity is a fact of life. We see variety with all walks of life. Finding opportunities to encounter diversity is a great way to create a greater perspective, breakdown stereotypes, broaden our consciousness and increase our creativity. Diversity is a superpower that can bring us together if we allow it. It is essential to understand that together we rise.

I think we do a massive disservice to our communities – and to each other – when we don’t make yoga more accessible. When we only offer yoga to the able-bodied, flexible, strong and young, we marginalise everyone else and deter them from trying a practice that may change their lives.

We glamorise yoga as a way to look like celebrities and have a better butt, but we miss the essence of the practice. Yoga is about getting to know yourself and communing with the divine. As a culture, we are overworked and highly stressed. We need tools to help us cope with our everyday lives. Yoga can be this tool if we open it up to everyone. To do that, we need to move beyond the stereotypes.

All body types, genders, ages, and colours can do yoga. We can develop yoga as an accessible practice by removing the barriers that keep people away from yoga. We must learn how to create progressive classes with lots of opportunities to explore variations and modifications for all abilities. As teachers, we can encourage body positivity through class themes that are focused on self-care, self-awareness and gratitude for what our bodies can do.

We can also create affordable classes by teaching in unique and public places like libraries, museums, church halls, community centres, and parks. Treat each student with empathy, compassion and understanding as we continue to share this practice with everyone.

Yoga is a gift that India has given to us. It is about creating unity and seeing everyone as a whole human that is worthy of human connection. Yoga is for all of us, and it is time that all we stepped in to make it adaptive, inclusive and accessible. After all, diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice.

Dianne Bondy is a social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the Yoga For All movement. Her inclusive approach to yoga empowers anyone to practise—regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability. Dianne is revolutionising yoga by educating yoga instructors around the world on how to make their classes welcoming and safe for all kinds of practitioners. 

Join celebrated yoga teacher and social justice activist, Dianne Bondy in Camden from 09 – 11 August 2019, for a series of workshops that explore new ways of making yoga an inclusive practice for everyone. This workshop is, without a doubt, open to all. Click here for more information and to book* your spot for individual workshops or the entire weekend.

*Book before 09 July 2019 to take advantage of our early bird discount. 

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