This is a standard question that I think most people who are not in the LGBTQIA + community would ask. A second runner-up would be, "What makes it 'queer' yoga?"
Let me preface all of this by sharing this thought: yoga is a radical practice. I don't mean sitting in contortionist poses or attaining a certain body type or adhering to a strict wellness-obsessed lifestyle. Those things are not yoga. Even the practice of moving through the poses itself is only a fraction of how one can choose to do yoga.
In Sanskrit, yoga literally means "to yoke" or "union". The basis of the practice of yoga is to link your attention and embodiment to the here and now. That's all.
Think about this: how often are you looking at a screen, absorbed in what you're reading or watching? How often are you going, going, going, from one thing to the next in your life, ticking things off of the never-ending to-do list?
How often do you take a moment to stand still and just absorb the experience of being alive, without entertaining thoughts about what's going to happen next, or what you did yesterday?
Making time and space for being present and embodied in the here and now is a radical act, this day and age. Who has time to slow down? There's always too much to do!
But, if you are not fully present in your life, if you are not "being" you, how can you "do" you with integrity? How can you fully know that you're not just spinning your wheels in the grind, another cog in the wheel, plodding away at what you're "supposed" to do?
Who tells us what we are "supposed" to do? Our bosses, our spouses, our therapists, our friends, our co-workers, our personal trainers, our life coaches, the media, advertisements, our own fears and anxieties, the list goes on.
But how does that work? The forces telling us what we're "supposed" to do, the commands we are receiving aren't actually coming from our true selves!
But wait -- this is your life we're talking about, not theirs. So how do we become aware? How do we take back the locus of control, and deconstruct this "supposed to" mindset into something more present, calm, and clear?
The practice of yoga gives us a space to slow down and rediscover the joy of being present and approaching our bodies (and eventually our entire lives) with loving curiosity and non-judgment.
When you are part of a community that is struggling for full acceptance from the rest of society, you already experience that external sense of "supposed to" on a heightened level. The expectations to conform and achieve an ideal of success as set out by something outside of you starts to cleave deeply into your sense of self-worth. It's harder to shake off the weight of who you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to do when you don't "fit the mold", and the rest of society struggles to uphold even your basic rights as a human being.
Enter Queer Yoga.
It's in this space that members of the LGBTQIA + community can begin to strip off the weight of the world and find a safe space to just be themselves. Historically, this atmosphere has only really been found in places like gay bars, pride parades, and special events.
What if you could experience this inclusive, safe, welcoming feeling of celebration for being you every single day? What if it became a lifelong practice? What if you cultivated this practice with other members of the queer community, so that you had people who supported you in this process no matter what happened in your life?
Hopefully you're beginning to see the possibilities here. If so, I invite you to explore the practice of yoga with us, and find out what it looks like for you, as an individual. Discard your assumptions about what this practice might look like, and jump in. You might surprise yourself.