CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For decades, the trans and queer communities have felt excluded from the practice of yoga, and many people did not feel comfortable going into a yoga studio because of the lack of diversity.
A new group called the Trans Yoga Project is working to create a safer and more inclusive environment.
The Trans Yoga Project was created in 2020. Daniel Sannito and Rebby Kern helped create the project. The pair live in Charlotte and met when initial talks for the Trans Yoga Project started last year.
Sannito and Kern both started practicing yoga ten years ago, but say they did not always feel welcome.
“We’ve been in this space for 10 years, and I find discomfort when I enter certain studios,” Sannito said.
Sannito is trans and nonbinary, and says yoga helped them through a crucial moment of self-discovery.
“I was really struggling with mental health stuff, and I was in a journey of exploration of gender, in sexual orientation in various other capacities in my life,” they said. “I was really ungrounded because I was just going through so much.”
Sannito and Kern say they often felt underrepresented when they went to in-person classes. They say a lot of instructors and students tend to fit a specific image.
“Typically, it’s a very specific avatar that marketing and consumerism has put together that looks very thin, white, and able-bodied, and femme in a lot of ways,” said Kern, who is also nonbinary.
After hearing these same concerns from members of the queer and trans community, they teamed up with other instructors around the country to create the Trans Yoga Project. The group is led by queer, trans and nonbinary instructors to create a safe space for people to practice yoga.
“I get the chills talking about it because that’s been the most transformational part where this practice has so much power to heal,” said Sannito.
“Almost all of our classes are sliding scale, so you can pay what you can when you can,” said Kern.
The Trans Yoga Project is preparing an event for Trans Day of Remembrance in October. For more details and events click here.