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Making Yoga Accessible: How Sanctuary Studios is Breaking Barriers

In this episode, Sarah Stevens opens up about her new yoga studio, Sanctuary Studios, which is set to open its doors in Moline. This unique studio aims to make yoga accessible to everyone by implementing a pay-what-you-can model. Students have the freedom to pay any amount for classes, including nothing at all, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder individuals from practicing yoga.

Sarah also introduces the concept of the "outer circle," a membership option where students can pay $99 per month for 6 months. Similar to unlimited monthly rates offered by other studios, this option helps cover the costs of teachers and sustain the functioning of the studio.

One of the key principles behind Sanctuary Studios is trauma-informed teaching. The teachers are trained to recognize and understand that many students may have traumatic experiences in their past. By creating a safe and inclusive space, they strive to ensure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable during their yoga practice.

Another important aspect is the emphasis on "health at every size." The studio rejects the notion that one must achieve a specific body size in order to be considered healthy. Language centered around weight loss is intentionally avoided, focusing instead on promoting body positivity and acceptance.

Sarah shares her personal journey with yoga, starting as a form of fitness but evolving into something much more meaningful. After leaving a demanding job in 2016, she dedicated herself to projects like The Beautiful Project, which promote body positivity.

Driven by her desire to create a physical space where everyone feels they belong, regardless of their body size, Sarah decided to establish Sanctuary Studios. By implementing the pay-what-you-can model, she hopes to remove financial barriers that often prevent individuals from engaging in yoga.

Addressing criticisms that the body positivity movement may be "promoting obesity," Sarah discusses the scientific evidence that refutes the assumption that larger body size equates to unhealthiness. She explains that much of the stigma surrounding body size is influenced by cultural and social factors.

Sarah is optimistic about the support Sanctuary Studios will receive from the Quad Cities community. Through her interactions with other individuals who are working tirelessly to improve the community, she has witnessed a creative and caring spirit that she believes will extend to the success of her yoga studio.

Marc Zyla joined WVIK, Quad Cities NPR in May 2022 as the Director of Community Engagement. Prior to that Zyla had been the Director of Education and Community Engagement with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, where he continues to perform as Principal Horn. Zyla believes that there is something for everyone in public radio and brings passion and creativity to his position as Director of Community Engagement.