the best yoga studio website in the world!It’s not unusual to see words like “welcoming,” “diverse” and “community” on yoga studio websites. And while many studios do make sincere efforts to create welcoming, diverse and community-oriented spaces, the imagery on their websites may reinforce stereotypical ideals of the yoga practitioner.… Read more

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the best yoga studio website in the world!

It’s not unusual to see words like “welcoming,” “diverse” and “community” on yoga studio websites. And while many studios do make sincere efforts to create welcoming, diverse and community-oriented spaces, the imagery on their websites may reinforce stereotypical ideals of the yoga practitioner.

Unfold Studios in Portland, Oregon has gone the extra step to design a website that reflects its mission and vision. “Our #1 priority is community, and providing a place where people feel unconditionally welcomed,” they proclaim on their homepage.

Their studio description says, “We believe that all people should have access to yoga, regardless of perceived barriers. When we refer to yoga, we mean the “big yoga” which utilizes yoga tools like philosophy, movement, meditation and the breath to increase ease and decrease the suffering that is inevitable when human.” With the accompanying imagery, this statement is believable and convincing.

So check out this screenshot from their About page:

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Smiling mixed races and ages, FTW! And this shot from their homepage:

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And another, from their blog:

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This studio website sets an example that many studios can follow: photos that reflect the reality of daily practice; diverse ethnicities, body types and ages; real people doing real poses. We can only assume that the real-life experience at the studio (which is in a single-story building and wheelchair accessible) is just as welcoming and inclusive.

Do you know of a yoga studio website that is just as inspiring and authentic? Share it in the comments section below!

Studio tip via Kelly McGonigal on Twitter.
Featured image via Facebook.

IAYB in conversation: sandy blaine on the purpose of practice

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IAYB in conversation: sandy blaine on the purpose of practice

IAYB talks to Sandy Blaine, an Oakland-based yoga teacher & Rodmell Press author, about the purpose of yoga practice & other things.

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  1. thank you so much for posting this. it is so important and so right on – if you really welcome everyone, then represent them too! this studio is the baby of some of my senior students. the verbiage and photos are taken (with blessings) from our website, which is where they trained. when we did this photo shoot, I reached out to my community and asked them – if you believe that the way you look would encourage and inspire others to feel welcome, please come to our shoot. all of these folks self identified as not fitting a stereotyped image. it was a gorgeous process and these photos hang prominently in our studio – the Samarya center (they are all Samarya students) – as well as in unfold studio. the photographer helped to bring out the joy and confidence you see. (Cindy Apple.com). thank you for sharing this. it is important and means so much to us!

    • hi molly! thanks for providing a little more context. based on your website, the samarya centre and unfold studios are doing wonderful work that inspires your community and beyond. keep up the great work!

    • Thanks, Molly! We are so grateful for these photos, and what they bring out in the people that visit the studio – all kinds of people seem moved by them. We are so appreciative of not only where they came from, but the teachings of inclusivity and personal challenge to notice our own biases – whatever they may be. We love our Samarya way – and YOU, and all you’ve taught us, and continue to teach us!

  2. Okay, I know I might get stoned for this but from a marketing standpoint, all bodies should be showcased. I don’t know if it was this blog but someone wrote about thin shaming as well. I am of a pretty average build but I have a strong practice and I have been “shamed” at yoga studios who claimed that I was a show off when really I was just doing my thing so I dumbed down my practice because it made them feel more comfortable. I am going to be honest with you. Just by the website alone, I probably wouldn’t go because I don’t see myself represented on the website. I would recommend a few “typical” yoga pictures of athletic yogis doing strong poses as well. Then, it would be all inclusive.

    • Though they use the word “inclusive” it is in the sense of the niche market of people who have been, think they have been, or think they might be shamed or made to feel unwelcome in other yoga/exercise places. (That they are “special” who “Our use of movement is for healing, connection to self and mindfulness – not for fitness.” “great at working with people not-magazine-yogi body types” (emphasis mine) on their front page are all clues to this.) There is no shortage of teachers and studios so it makes sense address this generally untapped market in this way. Less cynically, I think it is good to give people a place where their own jealousy and issues can be set aside, even if that means discouraging attendance of those who might set these things turning, and I can’t think of another way for this to be done but to politely disclude, which is different from shaming, but certainly doesn’t make this “best” actually inclusive.

    • Thanks, Shanna! We’ve been thinking about this aspect of inclusivity. That must have been frustrating to feel shamed, and that people made you to feel you were showing off at some studios. Part of our training at The Samarya Center has been to facilitate classes with a wide range of practices within one class – helping all people to feel seen, appreciated, supported and loved wherever they are. That’s the most important thing to us. We are, intentionally, a more therapeutic studio, though, which is why we’ve left out some of the more extreme looking poses, to try to illustrate that our studio is a place where people will feel safe. Thanks for writing! Love, EB

  3. As a yoga teacher who got into yoga before it was hyped, these photos cheer me up no end! I’ve felt so cut off from much of the current yoga marketing and I rarely look at yoga magazines because of it – the emphasis on “perfect” Western culture bodies is just too depressing to dwell on. I’d love to see a yoga calendar with photos like the ones on this website – I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  4. Love this! Great to see real people represented.

  5. Just want to say that as a student these past 2 years of EB’s Samaraya classes, and as someone who has practiced yoga at various levels at various places for over 30 years now, I have never found an approach more inclusive and supportive and comfortable, and I think that’s true here for all levels, ages and stages.
    Being in my 50s, I now find my “able-bodied-ness” can vary considerably, even week to week. I may be feeling great and at the top of my game, or I could have just sustained an injury from some other activity, or might be recovering from a minor medical procedure and just need to take it easy. No matter what, I know there will be a spot for me at Unfold that works, it’s why I keep coming back.
    As a woman of average size and fitness and with some past yoga experience, I know I could fit in any number of classes at other studios around town, but Unfold has become my yoga home, for good reason. I have never met more wonderful teachers than these, or felt my individual needs were so well-appreciated and addressed. No matter how I have felt coming in the door, I can say that for two years now I have consistently left these classes with a sense of well-being beyond anything I experienced other places. It’s priceless, actually, I’m just so thankful.

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