In celebration of Women’s History Month, we interviewed Elisabeth.
She is a member of the Yoga District community who identifies as a feminist.
Learn about how her feminist outlook informs her yoga practice, values, and relationship with her body.
What does being a feminist mean to you?
To me, feminism means unapologetically fighting for:
- believing in a better future
- recognizing the beauty and importance of intersectionality(1)
Feminism is about respect and justice. It also means understanding that we are better together. We are better when we uplift each other. We are better off because of the feminist work that was done before us.
Do you feel your yoga practice is a feminist act? If so, how?
Yes! Yoga is about honoring your authentic self when you show up to your mat. Also, embracing the other yogis around you for who they are as people. During yoga, we listen to and work on accepting our bodies. We acknowledge our different needs and encourage each person to adapt the practice so it is right for them. This work of honoring our bodies while accepting ourselves and each other is inherently feminist.
Please tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Central Massachusetts. For four years, I lived in Boston before moving to D.C. in December 2018. I have worked for arts-related nonprofits for the entirety of my career, and I am particularly passionate about arts education for students with disabilities. Many students with disabilities have unequal access to high-quality arts education, and they do not have opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities like dance or music classes during school time. I have the pleasure to work on the administrative side of arts education programming and to also teach dance and musical theatre in the classroom. I am excited to hopefully start graduate school in the fall, where I plan to pursue this passion further and continue to tear down barriers to arts education.
What brings you peace?
I am an incredibly indecisive person and a huge overthinker. It is hard for me to pinpoint one person or thing that brings me peace. A few things that have given me peace during the past year: my partner, phone calls with my best friends, caring for my plants, therapy, getting lost in a book, my weighted blanket, walks at Theodore Roosevelt Island, a toasty grilled cheese, letting myself slow down, and of course Yoga District classes!
What do you love about being a yoga student?
I love the space yoga provides to care for our bodies. We ask ourselves, “what do we need right now?” and honor whatever may be the answer. Yoga is the perfect blend of strengthening, stretching, mindfulness, and care for oneself.
Who is a feminist who inspires you? Why?
How do I choose?! I think I need to use this space to mention Malala Yousafzai. I read Malala’s book when I was in college, and it completely changed me. Her story opened my eyes in more ways than one. Mostly, it was reading about her complete commitment to education despite the terrors and obstacles in her way. That not only gave me a renewed appreciation for my own education, but made me realize the importance of feminism. She continues to fight for girls’ education through the Malala Fund. If she inspires you as well, I encourage you to donate to her fund (2).
If you could practice yoga next to any feminist, who would it be?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Rest in Peace and Power). I hate planks, but I think I could tolerate them if RBG were doing a plank next to me!
Describe how you relate to your body differently because of yoga.
I grew up dancing, and I still love to dance today. I was fortunate to be able to pursue my passion for dance and use it as an outlet from a young age. However, the dance world has a specific body type it honors, which is often damaging to young girls. I remember wishing my chest would remain flat because of the ideal body type I was shown. Yoga is the total opposite. At first, I approached yoga from my dancer perspective, striving for perfection in each pose. It wasn’t until I found Yoga District a couple years ago that I began to understand that this approach was not what yoga was supposed to be about. Thanks to the instructors and community at Yoga District, I have learned to let my body be my guide, listening to what it needs. It has also been a great space to work on accepting and loving all that my body does for me.
- Intersectionality, https://www.edi.nih.gov/blog/communities/intersectionality-part-one-intersectionality-defined
- Malala Fund, https://malala.org