Over the years I’ve struggled with how inaccessible yoga has become in the West. The fact that yoga has become associated with modern fashion and trends means that it has also become expensive and elitist in its current form. The result of this is that the ancient practice of yoga has become a luxury rather than an approachable and everyday way of life. Sadly, the ideals of body shape and colouful skin-tight outfits have become the focus, rather than the betterment of oneself physically, emotionally and spiritually through dedicated practice.
Jessica Dewar Yoga is moving away from this restrictive paradigm to one where the practice of yoga is shared openly with the community and where budget, age or level of experience are not a barriers to entry.
The Jessica Dewar Yoga studio will become Melbourne’s first yoga studio that offers 100% of its classes via donation whereby students will have the opportunity to come and pay what they feel the class is worth to them. All donations will contribute to sustaining the studio, paying teacher wages and growing the offerings to make yoga available to the wider community.
Why would I do such a thing? Believe me when I say there are many people telling me I’m crazy and am sure to go under if I head down this path. I disagree. And whilst there is of course the possibility things may not go as planned, my dream for a kinder world is too strong to not at least try. A dream that is undeniably too important to ignore. The Jessica Dewar Yoga studio is not about me. It’s a representation of what I believe and will fight for. Kindness, compassion and equality. To help educate the world about healthier ways of living which in turn will lead to better life choices.
I believe in the innate good in people which yoga helps each and every one of us delve into that little bit more. Because I know that if someone can walk out of a class feeling a little more self aware, centered and calm, then they will pass this incredible energy onto those they meet outside of class. In the supermarket, in a line at the coffee shop, at home with their children. The energy of these classes are taken out into our lives. It is important we remember a smile goes a long way and if we can learn to smile more, then what a wonderful gift to give.
By implementing this model, we are also giving the power back to the community and it’s up to them to tell us what they consider is the appropriate fee to pay. This approach not only ensures the classes are available to anyone but it also guarantees that all our classes are providing the best possible experience for our students.
I have seen the profound benefits a consistent yoga practice can have on ones life not only in my own life but in the students I have had the privilege of teaching. The practice cultivates happier and healthier lives and by sharing such a beautiful gift we trust that the community of students will support the studio by donating what they can if it offers real value to them. It is through these generous donations the studio will continue and grow with the capacity to run up to 90+ classes a week should there be the demand for it. If classes are full, I will offer more, and more, and more until we are ready to expand to an additional studio. This model needs to spread and I intend on making that happen.
I think the fundamental difference in our approach is that it’s people that drive us, not money. At Jessica Dewar Yoga we are determined and passionate to create a phenomenal community that gives back to each and every person who would like to be a part of it. With our philosophy coupled with the generosity of our valued students and teachers, together we can move mountains. This has always been my motto and it will continue to be.
Returning to Mysore, India each year to maintain my personal practice with my teacher, I’ve become very clear about the type of space and community I want to cultivate back home in Melbourne. In India, yoga is hot, sweaty and unforgiving. The practice is tough, but it’s real. It’s not about what you wear, where you’re from or what you do for a living. It’s an even playing field; we’re all simply yoga students. Yoga is not a luxury for the few, it is a way of life for all. My goal is to create a space that cultivates this same attitude. Where people can feel completely safe to be themselves without fear of judgment. We don’t care what people wear. We are not concerned what people do for a living or what the contents of their wallet is. What we care about is health. Supporting people as individuals to live happier, healthier and more relaxed lives and in turn creating a thriving and giving community.
Whilst donation classes are already operating at the studio, this new model (and a new timetable… stay tuned for this!) will come into full effect as of September 1st 2016.
Please share this post and help me to spread the word! I would be ever so grateful.
If you would like to get involved, please don't hesitate to contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0421 115 941.
Sending hugs and thanks to everyone for their incredible support and encouragement.