Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Interview with Chantel Ehler on Teaching Accessible Yoga

Accessible Yoga Blog: Where do you teach? Who is the population?

Chantel: I run a yoga school in Ontario, Canada called Amara Vidya Yoga School. Grounded in accessibility and diversity, our school features online and direct contact training combined with progressive learning techniques. I also teach online web conference classes to private students who don’t have access to typical yoga studios. In addition, I run a clinical practice in Ontario where I combine my training in massage therapy, Thai massage and therapeutic yoga.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Can you share an experience that stands out? 

Chantel: Many of my experiences have made me aware that I want to make all students feels safe and secure during yoga classes. One time a student revealed to me that he had a prosthetic limb and felt as that he couldn’t do yoga. I realized I had an opportunity to make him feel comfortable and supported within a group class. This experience and my work with palliative care participants made me realize that our connection to one another is what makes yoga powerful.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Why do you teach this group or this population? What made you choose this specific group

Chantel: When I graduated in 2002 I was already teaching to what we consider today as “special populations.” Until I moved back to North America in 2008, I didn’t know that certain populations experienced segregation or ostracism in the yoga room. It wasn’t until I started working in big box studios that I realized how many people were marginalized. I experienced a fair degree of bigotry myself, and also got in trouble for including my friends who were blind, obese or didn’t fit the “pretty” mold. I became more disenchanted with group classes as my continued training highlighted my desire to work with a wider spectrum of people.

Accessible Yoga Blog: What are you excited to do next with your students.

Chantel: I am currently developing a program that integrates community service work with yoga teacher training. I am expanding my water yoga program and excited to teach more students who can benefit from a water-based practice.

Chantel Ehler is the founder of the Amara Vidya Yoga school in Ontario. She is also a registered massage therapist and ERYT-500 Yoga Alliance registered teacher. She enjoys teaching students of all abilities and is currently the Location Manager for the 2018 Accessible Yoga Conference in Toronto. Chantel also offers water-based yoga practice in her community.

This post was edited by Gita Brown.

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