In recent times, yoga has become a very exclusionary practice that’s limited to the privileged few – wealthy, thin, young, flexible, white and able-bodied people. However, yoga has benefits for people in all bodies, regardless of shape, size, age, ethnicity or ability. In this episode, Dianne Bondy shares more about how we can be more inclusive in yoga spaces towards people in larger bodies.

Dianne Bondy is Founder of Dianne Bondy Yoga, and a firm believer that Self-Love is a Revolutionary Act. She is a speaker, social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the Yoga For All movement. For more than twenty years, Dianne Bondy has been empowering students to come to the mat as they are, educating teachers on the need for inclusivity in yoga and how to bring that into their classes, and leading systematic change within the yoga industrial complex. Dianne is also the author of the international best selling book, Yoga For Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body and co-author of Yoga Where You Are: Customize Your Practice for Your Body + Your Life.

Dianne shares some really important insights about the harm we can cause with our words by inadvertently using offensive terms when referring to people in abundant bodies in our yoga classes, or other yoga spaces. She explains how to be more mindful of the words we use and choose, and how to ensure that we hold space for the bigger people in our classes in a way that is respectful, welcoming and non-judgmental. Dianne also has tips on what to do when students who aren’t aware come into our yoga spaces and cause harm.

This episode is an excellent complement to episode 218 on body positive yoga, and is a must listen for every yoga teacher who wants to create inclusive and safe yoga spaces.


Key Takeaways:

[6:02] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Dianne Bondy.

[8:17] Dianne shares a bit more about her latest book, Yoga Where You Are, as well as her previous book, Yoga For Everyone.

[10:52] What is the work that Dianne does?

[12:06] What are Dianne’s thoughts on using words like “obese” and “overweight” in yoga spaces?

“We don’t get to determine who is overweight and who isn’t. We don’t get to determine who is healthy and who isn’t. We don’t get to determine who is obese and who isn’t.” ~ Dianne Bondy

[15:27] We are used to hearing such language on the news, or being used by medical professionals, and we think this language is acceptable. Dianne talks about the impact the language medical professionals use has.

“Your intention doesn’t matter as much as your impact in these spaces.” ~ Dianne Bondy

[20:04] Shannon and Dianne discuss using the word “fat” to describe people in larger bodies.

“[Larger people] is one of the groups of people in the world that we openly discriminate against, and language is one of the number one ways we discriminate.” ~ Dianne Bondy

[22:40] Language is so powerful in our interactions with other people.

“Language has the power to elevate. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to connect. But on the flip side of it, it has the power to shame and humiliate and other people. So we need to decide – How are we going to use the power of language?” ~ Dianne Bondy

[23:30] How else can we think about making someone feel welcome and safe in our yoga space when they come in in an abundant body?

“The struggle is part of the practice. It’s not called yoga perfect, it’s called yoga practice.” ~ Dianne Bondy

[27:05] How can yoga teachers address other students who may not be contributing to a safe and inclusive space for people in abundant bodies?

[30:43] What tips does Dianne have to call out unkind comments about people in larger bodies that we may encounter?

“Everybody’s body is doing the best that it can. Can we not just celebrate that?” ~ Dianne Bondy

[33:00] How can we take the “food and diet” language out of yoga?

[38:54] Find out more about Dianne’s work on her website, and on Instagram.

[41:25] Shannon shares her key takeaways from this interview.


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