Shanna Small is a seasoned yoga educator with a profound commitment to fostering social justice and accessibility within yoga spaces. Embarking on her yoga journey over two decades ago, she delved into the intricacies of Ashtanga Yoga, immersing herself in the study of asana, Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Sanskrit, and chanting within the Jois lineage of Mysore, India.
With a solid foundation in Vinyasa yoga Shanna earned her 200-hour Yoga Alliance accreditation under the guidance of Dolly Stavros. Building on her extensive experience in Ashtanga, she attained 500ERYT and YACEP status from the Yoga Alliance, ultimately becoming the director of numerous Ashtanga and Vinyasa programs in Yoga studios across North Carolina.
Two pivotal events— an accident revealing damage to her sacrum and spine, and the tragic murder of George Floyd by police— catalyzed a transformative shift in Shanna's yogic journey. This led her to specialize in Accessible Yoga, studying with Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes, and Trauma Conscious Yoga under the guidance of Nityda Gessell. Exploring her own experiences as a racialized woman in the yoga community, Shanna initiated Yoga Teacher Training programs and social justice initiatives.
In her pursuit of healing, Shanna found inspiration in Vedic studies, under the tutelage of Kaya Mindlin and Shantala Sriramiah. Currently, she shares her wealth of knowledge through extensive travel, offering teachings on accessibility, social justice, and yoga philosophy both in-person and online. Shanna Small is not just a yoga educator; she is a passionate advocate for a more inclusive and mindful yoga community, empowering others on their own transformative journeys.
Accessible yoga is not about making the practice easier or less challenging. It is about creating a space where individuals of all abilities can participate in and benefit from yoga, regardless of their physical, mental, financial, or emotional needs. It acknowledges that everyone's journey is unique, and the practice should be adapted and tailored to meet individuals where they are.
While asana (physical postures) is a well-known aspect of yoga, it is just one part of a broader system that encompasses various practices and wisdom teachings. Yoga is a holistic discipline that aims to bring harmony and balance to all aspects of life, including the mind, body, and spirit.
The teachings of yoga encompass a wide range of philosophical concepts, ethical guidelines, meditation practices, breath control techniques (pranayama), concentration exercises, and more. These elements collectively work towards calming the mind, cultivating self-awareness, and fostering inner stillness.
The wisdom teachings of yoga, such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, provide guidance on living a meaningful and purposeful life. They explore concepts like mindfulness, self-reflection, self-discipline, compassion, and the nature of the mind. By studying and applying these teachings, individuals can gain insights that extend far beyond the physical practice of yoga postures.
The intersection of yoga and social justice acknowledges that the practice of yoga goes beyond individual well-being and can be a catalyst for positive change in society. It recognizes the interconnectedness of individuals and communities and seeks to address the systemic issues of injustice, inequality, and oppression.