I’m really lucky to be studying yoga for my PHD. Why isn’t yoga more diverse? I want to find out!
I’m so excited and lucky to be doing yoga research at Leeds Beckett university. My PHD study is looking at barriers preventing communities and groups of people taking part in yoga. I started my studies in Spring 2020 and I’ve kicked off with some good background reading and planning for my research.
I’m fascinated to find out if something is putting some people off doing yoga. Because, there’s definitely a lack of diversity in yoga instructors and students. Most people who do yoga are white, female and middle class.* So, if some kinds of people find it harder to get to yoga than others, then it’s inequality – and that needs to be looked at.
Equal access to yoga is important because there’s so much evidence that yoga is good for us.** Studies have found that combining movement, mindfulness and breathing helps both our minds and bodies. So, yoga really should be available to everyone. And that includes people who might not think it’s for them or perhaps have difficulties physically, financially or mentally.
I’m starting my research by talking to people about their yoga experiences. I’m focusing at first on the Harehills and Chapeltown areas in east Leeds. That’s because there are free community yoga classes in these areas and I run one of them – at the Compton Centre in Harehills. I know my students enjoy and benefit from yoga. But I also know that some of them have found difficulties in getting to class. Things like worries about fitness, clothing, privacy and practical difficulties about caring responsibilities or travel costs have all been problems.
I’m hoping that my research project will help throw some light on why some people find it hard to do yoga. And perhaps it might help change yoga for the better – into something that more different kinds of people can enjoy. It might also help improve local services.
This is where I need your help. If you live in Harehills, Chapeltown or surrounding areas – and you’ve done yoga or thought about it – I’d love to hear from you. If you can spare an hour for a chat, please just get in touch.
Thank you :)
*Cartwright T, Mason H, Porter A, et al. 2020, Yoga practice in the UK: a cross-sectional survey of motivation, health benefits and behaviours.
** Bussing, A, Michalsen AS. Khalsa, SB, Telles S and Sherman KJ, Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews