Dianne Bondy on Yoga and Diversity • Yoga Basics

Dianne Bondy is a celebrated yoga teacher and social justice activist and a leading voice of the Yoga For All movement. She is a spokesperson for diversity in yoga and yoga for larger bodies and seeks to empower people to try yoga regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability.

How did you find yoga?

My mother introduced me to yoga in 1973. We used a book called Stay Young with Yoga to learn the practice together

What inspired you to dive deep into the practice and become a yoga teacher?

I learned to love the practice from a young age. When I got older I wanted to share what I loved with more people. Fat people, people of colour, people with disabilities, and women of colour are underrepresented in this practice. I wanted the opportunity to share it with them and anyone who felt marginalized by this practice.

How has your personal yoga practice evolved since you started?

It started out as a connection with my mother and grew into a way to make peace with my body, build community, and make a change in the world. Yoga helped me to feel and be more powerful through self-study and helping me create an appreciation for my body. Yoga helps me see how society divided us and gave me the tools to help unite us.

What has been your greatest influence?

In developing my asana practice my greatest influence was Anusara Yoga. I learned so much about anatomy. It has had a huge fall from grace because of the bad behaviour of its creator.

Other influences are Doug Keller and Dr. Gail Parker. Doug Keller who is a brilliant teacher and socially conscious. He doesn’t hide behind yoga to continue to oppress people. Dr. Gail Parker showed me the power of restorative yoga to help heal racial and social trauma.

Who are your yoga heroes? Who are your yoga villains?

Heroes: Anna Guest-Jelley, Amber Karnes, Rhonda Wishart, Jasmine Hines, Kelley Carboni-Woods

Villains: Capitalism in yoga, yoga and wealth privilege, white supremacy in yoga, people who steal others’ work and pass it off as their own, organizations that hold wealth and don’t share it, and people who use their privilege to oppress others.

What sources of inspiration do you draw upon to fuel your personal practice and teaching?

So many, but mostly my students or social media family who reach out to me tell me how our community has changed their lives or how they are in the world. I get confirmation and validation almost every day.

How do you approach difficulty and challenge? What gives you strength to persevere?

I remember my ancestry and where I come from. My ancestors have survived so much. I have their strength and their resolve. I know in my heart I am the dream of the oppressed. They died so I may live in my truth and continue to the pass the torch as we work towards equity, equality, and justice for all.

What do you hope to offer your yoga students, teachers, and greater community with your work?

How to teach and live from a place of peace and love for ourselves and others. I hope to inspire others to stand tall, speak truth to power and create a just existence for all of us. I want to bridge the divide between us so we can evolve our humanity.

Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of YogaBasics.com since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.