I’ve been thinking a lot about 2020 and what a tumultuous year it has been. I’m not of the mindset that once we reach 2021 things will magically change, but I am hopeful for a brighter future for all of us. 2020 offered the opportunity to explore accessibility in so many aspects of our lives. COVID-19 forced us to go online and to become more sensitive to the way we connect and create community even when we’re at a distance. We got to implement so many of the lessons that the disability community has been teaching us for years.
In particular, I’m really amazed by the way that our community pivoted to make Yoga accessible during this unusual time. I’ve seen all the creative and original ways Yoga teachers have moved to teaching online. At Accessible Yoga, moving online allowed us to expand the reach of our work. 640 people were able to attend our first ever online Accessible Yoga Conference. It never would have occurred to me that moving online could be so effective and fun!
At our conference we had tons of incredible presenters sharing in all different aspects of accessibility and equity in Yoga. I’m pretty sure it was the most diverse group of presenters ever gathered for a Yoga conference. We had presenters and participants from all different backgrounds and abilities sharing their love of Yoga and their desire to share it with others. I can’t think of a more beautiful representation of the essence of our work.
I’m excited to expand on this success next year. In particular, I’d like to expand on the Community Networking Sessions, which were such a big hit at the conference. These sessions were opportunities for individual members of our community to share about the amazing work they are doing, and to connect with others who are working in similar areas of interest.
These have been challenging days, and I know for myself that my Yoga practice has helped me to survive and thrive. I’m so grateful that I have these beautiful teachings in my life, and that I am surrounded by so many dedicated and service-oriented people who give so generously of their time and energy. I am passionate about our mission to remove obstacles to accessibility and equity in the Yoga world.
Mostly, as I look back over this year, I’m grateful to all of you who have supported the work of Accessible Yoga—making donations, representing us in the world as ambassadors, and sharing their love of Yoga with everyone around them. I look forward to what 2021 will bring us.
About the Author:
Rev. Jivana Heyman, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of Accessible Yoga, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the Yoga teachings. He’s the author of Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body, co-owner of the Santa Barbara Yoga Center, and an Integral Yoga Minister. He lives with his husband and two children in Santa Barbara, California. Rev. Jivana coined the phrase, “Accessible Yoga,” over ten years ago, and it has now become the standard appellation for a large cross-section of the immense Yoga world. He brought the Accessible Yoga community together for the first time in 2015 for the Accessible Yoga Conference, which has gone on to become a focal point for this movement. There are now two Conferences and over thirty-five Accessible Yoga Trainings per year, as well as a strong underground yoga community supporting them. For more information, please visit: jivanaheyman.com and accessibleyoga.org.