Who are the women that inspire you most in the yoga world? I'm dedicating my International Women's Day celebrations to the women in yoga who are making an extraordinary difference. I want to share their work, amplify their voices and inspire you with the amazing things they do. So here's my #IWD fan girl list (note: not exhaustive!). Click on the names to link to their content.
If you're not a fan of Dianne Bondy, it's only because you haven't spent some time online with her. Dianne is passionate about making yoga accessible to every body. She's all about building community and elevating the people around her. From diet culture to anti racism, Dianne's changing the face of yoga forever. I love her to bits.
Ok, I'm biased. Sunita has been a friend and colleague for nearly twenty years and I've never met anybody I liked more. I believe Sunita is Australian yoga's best kept secret - she has an extraordinary wealth of knowledge that covers Sanskrit (fluent speaker), yoga philosophy (studied it at Oxford University), Ayurveda (expert), and everything you do on your yoga mat (she's been practicing asana and pranayama since her grandmother taught her as a little girl in India). She's also funny, super smart and kind. If you haven't studied with Sunita, you should. To say she's the 'real deal' is an understatement.
Amber is a body positive yoga legend. From eating disorders to body confidence, Amber has done so much to break down the 'yoga body' myth/stereotype and make yoga accessible to everyone. She's a pioneer in teaching real, healthy yoga to bigger bodied people, navigating both the practicalities of doing yoga in a bigger body and cutting through the shame and fallout from fatphobia. She's totally relatable.
Again, I'm biased here, having had the pleasure of working with Dr Lauren many times over the years. Lauren is a psychologist and yoga teacher who fuses the two in beautiful ways. Kind, patient, funny and warm, Lauren is everything you want in a yoga teacher. As the founder of Mental Health Aware Yoga, she's doing very important work at a time when mental health resources are badly needed.
Hosting Nikki Myers when she brought Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) to Australia was one of the great privileges of my yoga career. Nikki is a trail blazer, drawing on her own rich life experience to support thousands of people to find sobriety with yoga. Nikki is fierce, compassionate, smart and inclusive. I couldn't love her more.
Melody was the first US based teacher I hosted in Australia and it was an incredible experience. Melody inspires women and girls all over the globe with her Embody Love program, teaching self love and acceptance at any size or age. She tackles issues like eating disorders and media distortion of women's bodies head on and supports other facilitators to do the same. She's super special.
Melanie is the founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and has been a driving force behind the movement to change the way yoga is represented. It isn't so long ago that the only images of yoga in the media featured very thin and bendy people. There's still a very long way to go, but Melanie has been at the forefront of the cultural shift in western yoga that has empowered thousands of yoga teachers and students of all ages, cultural heritage, sizes, gender, sexuality and abilities to proudly say 'THIS is what a yogi looks like'.
#IWD is for all women. As a cis white yoga teacher, I have some work to do in order to create safe and welcoming spaces that support everyone. I've got a lot of learning ahead of me and I truly appreciate individuals, collectives and organisations that do the vital work of supporing the trans yoga community. Trans Yoga Project is one of my go to places to learn how to be a better ally.
I had the good fortune to work with Kerri when she came to Australia to launch Off The Mat, Into The World, a yoga and social justice initiative founded by veteran yoga teacher Seane Corne. Kerri went on to found CTZN Well, aiming to harness the energy of the wellbeing community to become powerful change makers. She's a force of nature.
Happy International Women's Day!