This post is written in partnership with Yoga For All Humans. They’re dedicated to making yoga accessible to all those who wish to partake—no matter their financial, physical, or time constraints. We’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
In what now feels like a different life, I used to work for a cycle studio.
One of the perks was free classes at neighboring workout studios. Boy, do I remember taking the next-door yoga class for the first time…
I should probably first preface that I am likely to be the least flexible human on the planet. I played soccer for 10 years, ran track and then cross country in college, as well as half marathons for “fun” outside of that (I told you, this was a different life. I don’t even know that girl).
Yup, for me, going slow was never really in the cards. Stretching lasted about five minutes—if I could get away with it. In short: yoga has never been a priority nor a skill I endeavored to develop.
Basically, I distinctly remember taking that yoga class because it was painful AF—and only somewhat in the physical sense. Classes always felt like more of a “scene” than grounds for the betterment of emotional and physical well-being. The really excruciating part was walking into a studio where I felt like the new kid on the block with thick soccer thighs, no clue how to stretch, no mat, and no chance of ever touching my toes.
So, when I was recently given the opportunity to meet Derek Haigler, the founder of Yoga for All Humans (YFAH), best described as a fully-inclusive online yoga studio, I felt like I had to confess my sins to him immediately. Funnily enough, he laughed and smiled back at me, saying, “I can barely even hinge forward in a wide-legged forward fold.”
I remember instantly feeling the stress melt away. Also, why was I so stressed about something that was literally meant to detox the stress from my life?
It was during the pandemic that Derek was able to dig into his passion—for humans and for yoga. He signed up for a fully virtual Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) from a prestigious yoga school/studio, Asheville Yoga Center, in Asheville, NC. From there, YFAH was born. Their motto to this day remains the same:
Not flexible? No problem! New to yoga? No problem! Not traditionally able-bodied? Again, no problem!
I am always open to trying yoga, but as previously mentioned, I usually have a little-big guard up—I over-explain the type of athlete I used to be and why I’m going to be “bad” at it because I’m so used to it being that intimidating, almost elitist experience…
From the outside in, yoga seems to be all about love and inclusion, but capitalism and colonialism have rotted it to the core. And that’s why YFAH is such a breath of fresh air. If the name itself hadn’t already given away the core mission, here it is: they entirely denounce the notion that you have to fit a specific mold to participate in yoga.
Every body is a yoga body.
Yoga For All Humans believes everyone deserves to participate. Sign up for their 14-day FREE trial >>
We’ve all seen those pictures of gorgeous, scantily clad IG yogis. To me, that’s what I thought of whenever yoga was brought up—or those hot yoga studios that reeked of judgment and patchouli.
For the record: I love patchouli…not the accompanying glaring eyes (at least, that’s how it felt) from white women and their green juice-fueled inversions. (That’s not just a dig…A large-scale study found that 72% of yoga practitioners are female, and of that, 85% of those who regularly practice yoga are white.) (1)(2)
I always thought (even if subconsciously), I will never be able to do a “flying double eagle rooted python headstand”…so I’m just gonna not with the whole yoga thing.
That feeling is apparently not something I’m alone in, and why this unique, fully-online studio with a sliding membership scale that’s meant for everyone is…
The unsung hero of yoga, yes, but also for wellness and inclusivity.
The thing is, many of us are working from home nowadays, so getting any kind of movement within the day must be scheduled around millions of other tasks. I know you know this juggling act.
And then there are people who are wheelchair-bound. Or people, like me, who are pregnant. Or the curious folks who would love to try but simply can’t afford a membership if they want to make rent each month. All.walks.of.life.
Derek really hit the nail on the head here:
“During YTT, my eyes were opened to the systemic problems that existed in Westernized yoga. The lack of inclusion hit me in the face unexpectedly, particularly from 3 angles – race, physical ability (ableism), and financial security.“
Staying true to its core, YFAH offers classes of all types: yoga for wheelchair users, pre-natal, post-natal, yoga Nidra, lunch break chair yoga (yes, for real)…the list goes on and on. They also welcome ideas for other non-traditional class offerings and referrals to teachers who can fulfill those dreams.
No matter where you are or what your story is…you can do yoga. Sign up for a 14-day FREE trial right here >>
Getting sick, out of shape, injured, and aging is a natural part of life. But as one of their instructors, Hailey (who is in a wheelchair herself), mentions in her bio: they strive to bring representation to yoga for all bodies.
And on the topic of finances, the other big goal was to make sure cost wouldn’t be a barrier for anyone to participate in the healing power of instructor-led yoga. Without the overhead costs of physical space, they are able to provide a more affordable and convenient virtual studio membership as well as a sliding scale payment.
They ain’t kiddin’ when they say…
“No pain, no gain” is bullsh*t. We encourage you to practice with ease.
It’s not about “getting fit” or ‘having a yoga body” or even a spiritual journey…it’s really just your journey.
And, regardless of where you are on said “journey,” YFAH meets you exactly there. After all, yoga is meant to meet us where we are, not the other way around. (Something I had never felt—until now.)
This quote from Derek, in a recent Q&A, felt like a warm hug around my once yoga-phobic soul:
“Yoga is about creating space within yourself, and that looks different for every human. Don’t be fooled by the acrobatic yoga pictures you see online. Will yoga improve your flexibility? Absolutely. We all have to start somewhere, and we all won’t end up in the same place – and that’s A-ok!”
Whether someone is just getting started on their yogic path or already pretty advanced, there’s a class and an instructor specifically trained…for everyone—and they are readily available.
As Krishnamacharya said,
“If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
I remember wondering how a very body-oriented thing could be done virtually and still be safe and beneficial. Well, the teachers are available to chat before, during, and after class. Derek was specifically adamant about making sure I knew he was there to support my journey (and let the instructors know I was pregnant, so I could receive extra help if needed during classes).
Despite the fact that yoga has evolved into a modern-day Mean Girls society in some studios, YFAH has managed to create an approachable sanctuary for everyone—for (literally) all humans…and it can be immediately felt.
It’s a space where I could sign up for a class using their app (yep, it’s that easy) and then turn off my camera if I felt self-conscious (which I always do).
It’s a place that doesn’t make you jump through hoops to feel like you belong.
And it’s a place that says, “yes, your body is a ‘yoga body’—no matter what your body, your practice, your mat, your bank account, or your yoga pants look like.”
The world could always use more of that, don’t you think?
Sign up here to get 14 days of FREE, unlimited access to live-streamed classes (& a video library if you can’t make it) >>