When Accessible Yoga with Sarah found out about You’re Welcome, they leapt at the chance to sign up. They’ve created a fantastically detailed profile, and are quick to keep people updated with what they offer. As part of National Inclusion week, I spoke to Sarah to find out what it is that drives her passion for inclusion.
Sarah is based in Cheltenham and practised yoga for a few years before taking a course to teach it. She wanted a fresh start at the beginning of 2020 and quit her full-time job in administration to focus on setting up her own business. She taught mat-based classes, chair yoga in care homes and worked in assisted living. Just when she was getting her venture off the ground, the pandemic brought things to a halt.
“Of all the things to happen in my first year of being self-employed,” Sarah laughs.
I ask how it has been for her since then.
“I miss the connection and being in the room with people,” she says. “I like to make my classes a conversation, so I don’t expect everyone to be quiet. I’m a guide rather than a teacher.”
Although she hasn’t been able to do any live yoga teaching for a while, Sarah hired a studio and posted videos of her yoga sessions online.
“I want people to go and find something that works for them,” Sarah says. “Whatever they need.”
It’s the accessibility of yoga that attracted Sarah when she realised that she didn’t have to look a certain way, be a particular type of person or do specific things to practice it. Her teachers took the approach that everything was invitational, something that she now brings to her own work.
“If I say something that doesn’t work, people are welcome to opt out for a bit,” Sarah explains. “I don’t want to ask too many questions. If there’s something that you think I should know, tell me. Otherwise, you know your mind and body better than me, so take what you need.”
Finding out about the organisation Accessible Yoga opened her eyes to the wide range of requirements people may have when they come to a yoga session. Whether she’s learning about best practice for people with a hearing impairment or doing training on pregnancy yoga, Sarah is keen to find out how to welcome everyone. It’s a passion that she believes stems from the teaching courses and an awareness of her privilege.
“It’s about what I can do with the privilege I have,” she says.
I ask Sarah if she has any tips for people who want to become more aware.
“I’m not perfect, and I’m constantly trying to educate myself,” she says. “Actually, one of the biggest things that helps is listening.”
She also suggests following a wide range of social media pages to get an insight into communities that we may not necessarily be part of. This is where she learned about putting alt text on her photos so that people with a visual impairment are less likely to miss out.
“It’s such an easy thing to do,” she tells me. “Adding in that little sentence about what the image shows.”
Before I know it, I’m gushing about how impressed I am with Sarah’s accessible website with its alt texted images.
“You even explain your pronoun choice in your email signature!” I exclaim.
She tells me that the LGBTQ community is one she’s keen to normalise.
“We need to get so much better as a society and a community about understanding people’s perspectives,” she says.
To find out more about Sarah’s accessible yoga, click here.