Questioning Queer Yoga

queer-yogaBy Brooks Hall

In “LGBTQ” I’ve heard the “Q” refers to “queer” or “questioning”. It keeps awareness open for discovery, and allows for a worldview that is defined by individuals instead of dogma, and doesn’t force folks into “M” or “F” categories. People can discover and determine their expression for themselves. Talk about utopia (at least in my perception)!

I attended my first queer yoga class about a year ago in San Francisco. It was well attended. It was very comfortable and inclusive of big body types and radical expressions. A class for queers. I enjoyed it.

A couple months ago a friend, and long-time participant in my yoga classes, and I started to bring together our ideas and gather people to come together for queer yoga community in Chicago. We are a collective of teachers and participants coming together for queer yoga.

We’ve had a couple of donation-based classes, and we’re looking to continue to define our perceptions of queerness intersecting with yoga as we go forward. It’s not a set thing. We are learning as we go, and looking to participants and teachers to inform what we do.

It is important to me that our queer community yoga classes are welcoming to all gender expressions, emotional states and big bodies. Yoga as advertized in mainstream media offers yoga as another way to lose weight. In queer community yoga we want to embrace our expressions without trying to manufacture bodies that present in a certain or unified way.

Some questions: “Can yoga be identity supporting?” and ”Can a yoga class respect the agency of participants?”

I’m inspired recently by community accountability techniques that center on the survivor of trauma to determine what they need. Is it possible to offer creative space in a yoga class for participants to center on themselves and to trust what they know in order to heal? As a group we offer community support. As individuals we support what people need, including what we, ourselves need.

I’ve come to this pursuit of queer community and yoga because I had become disillusioned on the subject of yoga. The idea that we are supposed to trust “ancient teachings of yoga” had left me wanting, especially when modern research locates much of the beginning of what we are practicing today in the recent past. I’m also turned off by beliefs that the yoga teacher’s job is to pack into classes as many students as possible, and therefore to be as crowd-pleasing as possible. I tend to not feel like I belong in those classes.

Talking with self-identified queer yoga teachers has inspired me deeply! I wonder if there is an opportunity to create yoga classes that express the world I want to live in where different expressions are honored, and people are respected for who they are, instead of who we think they should be. Let’s let our friends teach us who they are! People are so awesome!

Let’s experience and express our physical, mental and emotional potentials together in yoga classes that give people room to participate and learn technique to feel better and more at home in our bodies, and also give space for doing one’s own thing if that’s what’s called for on a given day. Yes, as yoga teachers, it might be scary to give a bit more freedom in class. But it’s worth it!

And yes! I’m filled with beautiful questions about what queer yoga might mean as we go forward with self-determined identity-honoring techniques (like asking people if they’d like to share their name and preferred pronoun at the beginning of class), preconceived notion-shattering yoga classes, and community building efforts.

I never want the “Q” to lose the power of questioning.

~

Brooks Hall is a yoga teacher, activist and writer living in Chicago. More of their (Brooks’ preferred gender-neutral pronoun) writings can be found at root wisdom yoga rootwisdomyoga.com.

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