74: Yoga for All: Community Conversations with Elena Cheung

Often it’s the details that make our experience; in the context of a yoga class, it’s not just about the poses and practices we teach but the WAY we teach them that determines whether our class feels welcoming.

Today host Rachel speaks with Yoga Medicine therapeutic specialist Elena Cheung. Elena shares her tips for creating impactful all-levels classes that welcome the wide range of people who attend them. We discuss the little things that shape and color the student experience and yet are easily overlooked or forgotten – including how to kickstart class in a welcoming way, make your focal point relevant to everyone present, use inclusive language and props, and to harness the power of simplicity and silence.

Listen in to learn how to make your classes more accessible to all, and let go of the pressure to reinvent the wheel every time you teach.

“It’s easy to get lost in the details and forget what it feels like to be truly on the students’ end or to be a beginner coming into class.” – Elena Cheung


“It’s really easy to take for granted what it feels like to be accepted or seen in a space right off the bat.” – Elena Cheung

Show Notes:

  • The challenge of making all-levels classes welcoming and relevant to all [2:23]
  • Advice around yoga inclusivity is often framed in the negative [5:00]
  • Truly inclusive classes empower each student [6:50]
  • Preparing ahead for all-levels classes that welcome all [13:06]
  • First impressions: acknowledging each arriving student [14:15]
  • Tips for starting all-levels classes [18:03]
  • Be patient and trust the process [23:22]
  • It’s possible to be too welcoming [27:41]
  • Keep it simple: make even complex concepts accessible to all [30:45]
  • The pressure on yoga teachers to constantly reinvent the wheel [39:19]
  • Tips for more inclusive language when cueing [43:45]
  • Integrating props into practice as tools rather than “training wheels” [48:36]
  • Tips to “tie the bow” when closing yoga classes [52:31]
  • More on Elena, including the course: The Art of Teaching Impactful Group Classes [57:00]
  • A final tip: how can yoga students make other students feel welcome? [1:02:03]

Links Mentioned:

Instagram | Elena Shapeshifts | Yoga Medicine® Online Guest Teacher

“Remember at the end of the day it’s their choice what they’re taking in and where they’re ready to go.” – Elena Cheung

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