This profile is part of our series of blogs on our International Accessible Yoga Ambassadors who are out in the world sharing yoga with everyone.

Karin (Maitri) Perkmann – Vienna – Austria

… has been teaching Yoga in Sivananda tradition for 10 years. For the last 4 years Maitri has paid special attention to folks who had thought about Yoga as something, which wasn't really made for them.  Since then, Maitri has been doing her best to make Yoga accessible for all – no difference which kind of limitations were given (physical, financial, or intellectual…)

In 2015, she graduated from  "Accessible Yoga“ – with Jivana Heyman as her teacher. In 2016 Maitri is going to have a training in "Yoga for the Heart“ with Nischala Devi which will bring more insight into the possibilities and needs of people who are suffering from heart disease or cancer.

Even though Maitris attention mainly is taken by special populations, she is practicing and teaching regular yoga classes as well. Yoga applicable in Every-Day-Life, lots of heart and a good sense of humor are very important in her classes and sometimes, if there is space for more difficult asanas, they just happen in her classes and her own practice.

Maitri says, with Yoga she finally arrived „at home“ – „Yoga tut einfach gut“ (Yoga simply does good to you) will be her homepage’s Title.


Karin (Maitri) Perkmann
– Wien, ist seit 10 Jahren praktizierende Yogalehrerin, der Sivananda-Linie und widmet sich seit etwa  4 Jahren ganz besonders Gruppierungen, die bisher nicht so sehr daran dachten, Yoga zu praktizieren, weil sie meinten, Yoga wäre nicht für sie.

Maitris Ziel ist es, Yoga  allen zugänglich zu machen, egal welche Schranken diese Menschen zu haben scheinen (körperlich, finanziell, mental…). Das High-Light 2015 war für Maitri die Ausbildung zum „Acccessible Yoga“-Lehrer durch Jivana Heyman. 2016 wird Karin in Nishala Devi s Lehrgang „Yoga for the Heart“  tiefen Einblick in die Bedürfnisse und Möglichkeiten von herz- bzw. krebserkrankten Menschen bekommen.

Obwohl Maitris besondere Aufmerksamkeit den Menschen gehört, die nicht den heutzutage „klassischen“ Zugang zum Yoga  vor  Augen haben, praktiziert und unterrichtet sie auch herkömmliche Yogaklassen und legt darin sehr viel Wert auf Alltagsbezug, Herz und Humor. Und so werden dann, wenn es stimmig ist, auch hin und wieder schwierige Asanas in Angriff genommen.

Mit Yoga , sagt Karin, ist sie endlich „zu Hause“ angekommen –„Yoga tut einfach gut“  soll der Titel ihrer Homepage sein.

All the blogs I read seems to have lists, so I thought I’d give it a chance and come up with five reasons to come to the Accessible Yoga Conference. I can think of a lot more, but I’m trying to focus here. I’ll post a series of blogs each with one good reason to come to the Accessible Yoga Conference:

Reason #1: Challenge the Paradigm

The truth is, a few years ago I found myself feeling competitive with other adaptive yoga teachers. I had just moved to Santa Barbara and I had this terrible feeling that I had to compete with the local teachers for work. It was sad, ego-based, scarcity thinking. At one point, I realized how antithetical to yoga that was, and that as a yogi I had dedicated myself to work on quieting my ego-mind so I could have some peace of mind. I realized I had to do something about my own misperception of the situation.

So, I thought of one of the yoga teachings, pratipaksha bhavana, which means positive thinking, or replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It occurred to me, that the opposite of my ego-based thinking was to put all my energy into supporting other teachers and building a community of adaptive yoga teachers (who probably all felt as isolated as I did). That’s how the idea of the Accessible Yoga Conference was born.

I had always questioned the direction that mainstream yoga was heading; and I often wondered how to best counter the ego and celebrity-focus of modern yoga. The idea of working in community is the perfect antidote to this focus on individual teachers and yoga stars. If we can find a way to support each other, and build each other up, then we can achieve great things together.

The fact is, yoga is for everyone regardless of background, race, size, or ability. We all share the same heart – and it’s through yoga that we can touch that place of peace within us: A place of peace that exists within all of us! Like I always say, “If you have a body and a mind you can do yoga.”

So, my first reason for you to come to the Accessible Yoga Conference is to shift the paradigm in our yoga culture to one of mutual love and support: To create a yoga community based on respect for difference and inclusion. The Conference is a platform for this change - join us and help fuel this paradigm shift.

For more information about the Conference please click here.

Alessandra Uma Cocchi from Italy is part of our series profiling our international Accessible Yoga Ambassadors. We are hoping to shine a light on yoga teachers around the world who are sharing yoga with all.

Alessandra Uma Cocchi is a certified teacher from the Integral Yoga tradition of Swami Satchidananda. She trained in Italy, Portugal, Yogaville (USA) and Austria through the different stages of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Teacher Trainings, Accessible Yoga, Yoga of the Heart, Prenatal and Labour Yoga, Therapeutic Applications of Integral Yoga, Integral Yoga for Children trainings. 

She is part of a research team in Italy carrying out medical studies the impact of Yoga on health, with special reference to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and Irritable Bowel Syndromes.

In 2004 she founded YAP Integral Yoga Centre in Teramo, Italy, a non-profit organization recognized by the Satchidananda Ashrams. The centre is inspired by the Integral Yoga teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda. Truthful to the message “Truth is one, paths are many”, the centre opens the door to various Yoga schools and traditions. A Yogatherapy and Accessible Yoga section is part of the centre’s activities under the name “Yap Therapy”.

Alessandra Uma Cocchi. Insegnante Yoga certificata dalla Scuola di Integral Yoga del maestro indiano Swami Satchidananda. Ha compiuto gli studi della disciplina yogica in Italia, Portogallo, Yogaville (USA) e Austria, percorrendo i vari stadi e specializzazioni formative: dalla certificazione all’insegnamento dell’Integral Yoga ai livelli Principianti, Intermedi, Avanzati e Bambini, per finire con la formazione in Yoga Accessibile, Yoga per le Malattie Cardiache e Oncologiche (Yoga of the Heart), Integral Yoga per la Gravidanza e il Parto, Applicazioni Terapeutiche dell’Integral Yoga.

E’ parte di un team di ricerca in Italy che porta avanti studi medici sull’impatto dello Yoga sulla salute, con particolare riferimento alle patologie gastrointestinali.Nel 2004 ha fondato il Centro Integral Yoga YAP, un’organizzazione non lucrativa riconosciuta ufficialmente dal Satchidananda Ashram. Il Centro si ispira agli insegnamenti dell’Integral Yoga di Sri Swami Satchidananda. Fedele al suo messaggio “La Verità è Una, i sentieri sono tanti” (Truth is One, Paths are Many), il Centro apre le sue porte a varie scuole e tradizioni di Yoga. All’interno di YAP opera una sezione specializzata in Yogaterapia e Yoga Accessibile che porta il nome di YAP Therapy.

Artur Arya, from Brazil, is part of our series profiling our international Accessible Yoga Ambassadors. We are hoping to shine a light on yoga teachers around the world who are sharing yoga with all.

Artur Arya practices and teaches Integral Yoga as a way to Love and Serve people even better. He is a keen student and dedicated teacher. He is grateful for having so many opportunities to learn with excellent teachers like Swami Ramananda, Swami Karunanda, Leticia Padmasri, Renata Sumar, Sivakami and Jivana Heyman. He is also so grateful for having opportunities to share this knowledge with many students with different ages and physical conditions. Besides practicing and teaching yoga, Arya also likes to cook, play the guitar and swim.

Artur Arya pratica e ensina Integral Yoga como uma forma de Amar e Servir as pessoas ainda melhor. Ele é um estudante entusiasmado e um professor dedicado. Ele é grato por ter tantas oportunidades de aprender com excelentes professores como Swami Ramananda, Swami Karunanda, Leticia Padmasri, Renata Sumar, Sivakami and Jivana Heyman. Ele também é muito grato por ter a oportunidade de compartilhar este conhecimento com vários alunos de diferentes idades e condições físicas. Além de praticar e ensinar Yoga, Arya também gosta de cozinhar, tocar violão e nadar.

Originally posted at Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Cross-posted with permission.

Ericka Bell has always had a love affair with movement. It began as a child with dance, and it has evolved into a yoga practice as an adult. She began taking yoga 14 years ago, and has taught yoga for the past 7 years. She’s had the privilege of sharing yoga with a diverse group of students; varying in age, ability, size, also fitness level. Early into her teaching journey she was invited to sub for a Chair Yoga class. She had never heard of such a practice. While intrigued she was skeptical of the process and the benefits, since most of her yoga experience had been through the style of Vinyasa Flow. Not knowing what to expect, she prepared for her first practice by pulling movements from her yoga and dance background. After sharing the practice with her students she was not only inspired, but she was also a believer in the practice too. Immediately she researched teaching methods and trainings specifically for Chair Yoga. Gratefully she found the teachings of Lakshmi Voelker and earned her certification with Lakshmi entitled, “Get Fit Where You Sit”.

Through her studies and teachings she has found that Chair Yoga doesn’t make yoga easy, it simply makes yoga accessible. So, when she leads a class she approaches it as any other practice. There is breath awareness, sun salutes, warrior series, balance practice and everyone’s favorite relaxation. With every class she leads she witnesses the true fact that yoga has no age, no size, or no limits! She believes yoga is beyond exercise, it’s also about transformation of mind and spirit.

She also enjoys witnessing the growth of confidence and courage within her students…they are consistent with their practice and they desire to learn more. From these experiences ebyoga has been created to help expand diversity in yoga, empower individuals in their practice, and in their lives…join us, it’s time for yoga to include everyBODY!

Watch below for her head-to-toe chair yoga practice.

Profile of Dobrina Gospodinof : International Accessible Yoga Ambassador from Canary Islands, Spain.

I am a professional Italian musician, I play the piccolo in the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain).

I had been practicing Yoga for a long time...but I’d never really got the point until 2009, when I had to deal with an aggressive breast cancer. This difficult experience has been a gift in my life... and Yoga helped me SO much! From that moment on, I felt the deep desire to share Yoga with people dealing with (cancer or chronic) sickness... In 2012 I graduate as Yoga teacher (Sivananda) and  in 2013 I did the life-changing Yoga of the Heart course with Nischala Joy Devi (Yoga for cardiac and cancer patients) .

Through Accessible Yoga with our beloved Jivana, Yoga for Amputee with Marsha Therese Danzig, further education courses and also thanks to Soul Therapy (a powerful healing meditation practice) with Arnie Vargas, I am refining my skills, keeping high inspiration in my own practice, as well as getting more and more confident!

Since January 2015 I am giving weekly Yoga classes in the nephrology department of Dr. Negrín hospital in Gran Canaria (where this photograph was taken). I also give private classes, and all my beloved students are wonderful masters to me.

In my opinion, the most important thing we may offer to our students is to be deeply inspired ourselves, and to be able to see the hidden perfection and wholeness in each of them.

This is the powerful, loving, healing power of Yoga to me.


Reposted with permission from Sarah Greene of Greene Zone Yoga - view original post here

Accessible yoga, or adaptive yoga, is a developing focus within the yoga world. There seem to be new forms and genres of yoga sprouting up every week, thanks in large part to social media and YouTube. However, only recently has there been a movement to include ALL bodies, regardless of size, ability, or access (financial included). Many people who wanted to experience yoga felt they wouldn't fit in to a "traditional" class. Add to that some misconceptions of a physical yoga practice (thanks in large part to "yogalebrities" on social media) and some controversy surrounding Lululemon Athletica's yoga clothing sizes and you have a perfect formula for making people not feel welcomed anywhere near a yoga class. 

Fortunately, there are teachers working to make a yoga practice more accessible and spread the word that "if you have a mind and a body, you can do Yoga!" (Jivana Heyman, founder of the Accessible Yoga organization).  Movements on social media and the inaugural Accessible Yoga Conference held last September in Santa Barbara have made adaptive yoga a major topic of conversation and blooming area of learning for yoga teachers.

So, what exactly IS "accessible yoga" then? As far as I'm concerned, as a yoga teacher and practitioner, it is providing a means of participation for absolutely anyone who wants to experience a yoga practice in their own body. It is about making yoga work for anyone who is interested and expanding the outreach of the yoga community to include everyone, regardless of age, weight, illness, disability, trauma, finances, etc.

I will be introducing my own ACCESS YOGA class starting June 2nd at Full Circle Yoga in Yorba Linda, CA. This class is mindfully designed to be fully inclusive of all abilities, backgrounds, and experiences. It will introduce students who may not otherwise have access to a yoga class to the subtle practices of pranayama (breath), asana (physical movements), and easy meditation. I hope to empower students by helping them reclaim their physical and mental space, embrace change, encourage growth, and transcend any challenge they may face - on AND off their mat. I am there to hold space for my students, guide them through a yoga practice that suits their goals and keeps them safe, and grow right beside them.

What does "accessible" or "adaptive" yoga mean to you? Do you know anyone whose been hesitant to try yoga due to a perceived limitation? Please share this information with them; our ultimate goal is to share yoga with everyone!

If you would like more information on the Accessible Yoga organization, the 2nd Annual Accessible Yoga Conference, and how YOU can become a sponsor for the upcoming conference, please visit http://www.accessibleyoga.org/index.html.

Accessible Yoga Ambassador - International Profile:

Vânia Sunita Marques
, from Belo Horizonte/MG – Brazil

I’m an Integral Hatha Yoga teacher, certified since 2005, by the Integral Yoga Center Jai Vida, Belo Horizonte/mg – Brazil.

I’ve been improving my practice in my daily life, through the study of the sacred scriptures, philosophy of Yoga and the lives of the great Masters.

I’ve completed the Accessible Yoga Teacher Training, with Rev. Jivana Heyman, and ever since, I’ve conceived a new way to share Yoga. I’m grateful to be able to do this work and to bring people possibilities of new teachings and better quality of life.

It’s a great Love exchange, there is a better acceptance of everything as it is, and persistence, a place where the little becomes big and opens up new ways of understand the human being. Accessible Yoga invites us to deeply experience Yoga and to discover the importance of being present, here and now.

There are two particular mottos that inspire me:

“Our Nature is to LOVE, to SERVE and to GIVE.”

“Be GOOD, do GOOD.” (Swami Sivananda)


Sou professora de Hatha Yoga Integral, formada desde 2005, pelo Centro de Yoga Integra Jai Vida, Belo Horizonte- Brasil.

Aprimoro minha prática na vivência do cotidiano, no estudo das sagradas escrituras, da filosofia e vida de grandes Mestres.

Fiz a formação em Accessible Yoga, com Jivana Heyman, e desde então, concebi uma nova forma de ampliar as condições de partilha. Sou grata por poder realizar esse trabalho e levar às pessoas possibilidades de novos aprendizados e melhor qualidade de vida.

É uma troca grande de amor, maior aceitação das coisas como são e persistência, onde o pouco se torna muito e abre novas visões do ser. Accessible Yoga nos convida a viver o Yoga em profundidade e descobrir a importância do viver consciente, aqui e agora.

Tenho duas mensagens que particularmente me inspiram:

"Nossa Natureza é AMAR, SERVIR e DOAR".

"Seja BOM. Faça o BEM" (Swami Sivananda).

We're reposting this blog from Christa Fairbrother of Bee Content Yoga with permission. Visit the original blog here

I use the phrase making yoga accessible multiple times on my website.  When you hear the phrase making yoga accessible you might think of helping people in wheelchairs to do yoga.  While I certainly do that in my classes at assisted living facilities, the idea is really much broader.  It’s about making yoga work for the people I’m working with.

I make yoga accessible by:

LISTENING – I don’t know what your needs are unless I’m listening to what you tell me.  If you need help with a particular posture I need to hear that.  If you’re expressing fear or concern I need to reassure you.  If you’re saying one thing verbally but your body is saying something different, I need to listen to both.

MAKING IT FUN –  Yoga can be hard physically, emotionally and spiritually it’s true, but there’s no reason you can’t have a little fun while doing the work.  Real life is serious enough, we can be a little lighter while we’re on the mat.  Using phrases like “slumpasana” are factually true and more fun than nagging you to “sit up straight.”

ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR ASSETS AND LIABILITIES –  One day when I was changing in the locker room, a woman in the next aisle asked a friend to borrow a beach towel because she had grabbed the wrong one that morning and hers didn’t cover her “assets and liabilities.”  The woman should’ve copywritten the phrase because it’s a great way of looking at yourself.  We all have assets and liabilities.  As a teacher, I have to help you accommodate yours.

PROVIDING A SPACE TO BE VULNERABLE –   I need to provide you a space where you can try out new ways of being yourself.  For example, in my mommy & me classes, the moms are learning how to integrate the new role of being a mom into their old image of themselves.  Providing a space where they can do something they used to do pre-parenthood with their babies allows room to grow into new roles.  I’m there to help you embrace that vulnerability.

KEEPING IT SAFE –  Student safety is a number one priority.  I always say “Do what you can” and “Make it your practice.”   My cues are suggestions for your journey unless it looks likes you actually are getting unsafe and then I’ll get quite insistent.

USING PROPS – Sometimes we use a lot of props.  Props keep people comfortable, safe, and build body awareness.  Props are our friends.

KEEPING MY EGO IN CHECK –  My classes and private sessions are about you not me.  I’m not there to wow you with a posture or name dropping.

KEEPING YOUR EGO IN CHECK – Like really, really, really encouraging you to take the bloody prop.

LANGUAGING TO MY AUDIENCE –  In my kids classes I phrase things differently than to a class of adult beginner yogis.  The important thing is I phrase things in a way that resonates with you as my student.  Using the Sanskrit is respectful and builds your skillset if used with some translation.  I’m there to teach you, not overwhelm you with verbage.

BEING ATTENTIVE –  If you need help with a particular posture, I need to help you when you’re in that posture, not 15 minutes down the road.  When the tenor of the class is showing a little bit of frustration or overwhelm, I need to back off vs. if everyone is sleepy, I need to jazz it up.

MAKING IT RELEVANT –  My wheelchair students don’t need classes on the finer points of handstand nor do my mommy & me students need a tirade on the need for absolute silence in savasana (corpse pose).  I provide students with the information that’s relevant to where they are at in their practice.

PRACTICING BODY ACCEPTANCE – I don’t care what you weigh, or how many diagnoses you have, or your gender….  We’ll get you doing the yoga that’s right for you.

EMBRACING CHANGE – You have different needs every time you come to class.  I don’t make my classes the same every time.  It makes us open to the possibilities of change together.

BY BEING WELCOMING – I’m thrilled you came to class.  I don’t teach yoga because I have to.  I’m really happy to be there too.

HAVING A CAN DO MINDSET – If something didn’t work for you, I’ll see or hear that and we’ll try something else.  The important part is saying yes to the yoga, the details we’ll work through.

ENCOURAGING COURAGE – I have problems, you have problems, we have problems.  It could be a little song but we don’t have to let the problems keep us from doing yoga.  We have to have the courage to focus on what parts of yoga we can do, and focus our attention and energy there.  Practice with sutra 2.8 close to your heart.  “Unreasonable dislikes are usually the result of painful experiences in the past connected with particular objects and situations.”  We need to leave the fear in the past.

ACCEPTING HELP – I don’t have all the answers.  If I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll tell you, and then I’ll do the research and get back to you.

DEALING WITH CHALLENGES – I make the assumption that everyone in my classes has challenges.  They might be physical, mental, or emotional but we’ve all got our baggage.  It’s like at the airport when all the bags go around on the carousel and when you go grab yours it’s too heavy.  I’m that dream porter who appears and helps you with your heavy bag.  While I wheel it around for you, hopefully I can teach you how to pack lighter for next time.

BEING OPEN TO NEW IDEAS – I’m a voracious researcher so I love using students as my lab rats.  But when the rats revolt…

BY BEING HUMBLE – I love feedback.  I don’t really (I’m the same as everyone else I internally cringe when I know you didn’t like something).  But… I really do love the feedback because it makes me a better teacher.

Because at the end of the day, making yoga accessible is just about being the best teacher you can for the students in front of you.