Should body positivity be a required part of yoga teacher training? A group of socially conscious yogis thinks so. A Change.org petition, started by Jeniffer Zimmerman of “All Bodies Rise Yoga,” is calling for body positivity training to be a required part of all Yoga Alliance-registered schools’ yoga teacher training programs. While Yoga Alliance’s influence has been waning, and their standards frequently questioned, they still currently remain the largest organization recognized for laying out a structure for yoga teacher training at the 200-hr and 500-hr as well as continuing education levels. We assume this is why the petition is targeting them.
With yoga’s increasing popularity, we’ve learned it’s important to make an effort to keep the practice as inclusive and accessible as possible. There’s been a growing awareness around diversity and making yoga a safe space for every body, no matter their race, body type, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability. Some yoga teachers and students have already taken it upon themselves to enroll in additional training to add those extra tools of awareness to their toolbox. This petition is asking for it to be made a requirement for all yoga teachers.
Here’s the full write-up via the Change.org petition:
All Bodies Rise Yoga is asking Yoga Alliance to include body positivity training as a requirement for all registered yoga teachers. The Ellipses Project defines body positivity as, “a radical redefinition and reclamation of the body. It arose in response to Western culture that recognizes only white, able-bodied, heterosexual, and thin bodies as worthy and beautiful. Body positivity must be inclusive and intersectional if it is to make a real change in society.” We would like yoga alliance to adopt this definition.
The yoga precept of nonviolence (ahimsa) must include a closer examination of how westernized yoga culture has adopted the same harmful beauty standards as popular media, and how this contributes to mass body dysmorphia and body shame. Yoga teachers registered with Yoga Alliance need a minimum of four hours (200RYT) or ten hours (RYT500) of training to learn how to reduce the embodied trauma of narrow, and often unattainable, definitions of beauty that follow our students onto the yoga mat.
Of the total training hours, two hours (RYT200) /five hours (RYT500) will focus on the study of ethics of body positivity, which should include an examination of personal and cultural body biases, body politics, and language. The additional 2 (RYT200) / 5 (RYT500) hours should focus on teaching techniques for body diversity in the classroom, including props and accessibility of poses.
All Bodies Rise Yoga doesn’t have much of a web presence, but it appears to be a collaboration between yoga teachers Heather Heintz and Jeniffer Zimmerman. They describe themselves as “part of the movement that aims to make yoga culture more inclusive, safe, and accessible,” which we gleaned from a Hawaii yoga studio’s website where an ABRY workshop is being held the end of July.
Do you think body positivity training should be required for all yoga teachers?
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