Only fit, white, women in yoga? I beg to differ.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the lack of diversity in the yoga community. It’s a common and agreed upon assumption that the singular and insular demographic of the typical yoga studio.

But perpective is all about the angle at which you view things. And I have a different perspective.

It is undeniable that the yoga industry (and all it’s accoutrements) is a product of the white, female, upper class demographic that’s in the majority at most  suburban and urban elite yoga studios. But assessing yoga community from capitalistic, comercial perspective misses the point. There is more to the community than where  all the money of the yoga industry lives and grows.

In fact, the population of yogis in America and across the world is incredibly diverse.

Creative Commons License photo credit: chantel beam photography

Yoga is being taught in juvenile halls, long-term care facilities, and church basements. It’s taught in Rwandan villages, neighborhood centers, and homeless shelters, where the only thin white female you might see is the yoga teacher.

I have a challenge for you.

If you look around your yoga class and see only practitioners with the same skin color, body type, and socioeconomic status… change your routine. Take a different route into your practice. Expose yourself to the true diversity that is the yoga community of the present moment.

If there is a problem with age, class, race and gender segregation in our yoga community, it has far more to do with the gentrification of our neighborhoods, the punitive and corrupt practices of our justice system, and the inequality of corporate financial systems than it does with yoga commercialism.

Doing yoga is not going to change anything if you limit yourself to the same class and studio every day. 

Yes, the “commercial yoga schtick of sexy and seductive” is a problem (as one of our wonderful contributors pointed out). However, you have a choice of how much you participate in it. You are not stuck in your homogenous context, and we do not have to be stuck talking about it as a problem. Let’s be problem solvers instead. Yoga is exploding with diversity. You just have to seek it out.

Do you think the lack of diversity in yoga is really a product of commercialism?

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- who has written 31 posts on Yoga Modern.

Lauren Znachko is a yogi and writer in Chicago. She travels to the jungle, lives in the city and although she begins each day with a cup of coffee and never leaves the house without her iphone, she finds at least a moment each day with the page and on the mat. The art of combining an embodied life experience and expressing that it with crafted word is what inspires her to teach and write in a way that brings unity to the many communities of which she is a part.

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