I’m Bethaney, a qualified Yoga Teacher and the founder of Sign Yoga. Sharing the love of yoga amongst the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
I’ve been a yoga student for four years and still am, going to as many classes as possible, practicing asana in my own time and embracing yoga on and off the mat.
I am also a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) which means I am bilingual in English and British Sign Language (BSL). I qualified as a British Sign Language Interpreter in 2018.
I soon realised in my yoga journey the difficulties people may face in a yoga class if they are unable to hear or follow the teacher. I am hearing myself and I remember one class where the teacher spoke quietly and I had positioned myself near the back, the music speaker was in the middle of the room so I could not hear what they were saying. This meant I solely relied on what I could see. Except this teacher did not demonstrate at the front of the class, she was one of those teachers who gracefully guided you verbally. I struggled to keep in time and I was second questioning what the next pose was. Making a few mistakes, I left feeling disheartened and everything opposite to what a yoga class should make you feel like. It was through no fault of the teacher, it was just the situation.
To me yoga is about unity, being your best self, connecting your mind, body and soul. It has always been a dream of mine to become a Yoga Teacher so that I could teach Deaf and Hard of Hearing yogis in the Midlands. I completed my 200hour YTT in November 2018 on a beautiful island of Thailand, Koh Phanagan. I now teach as many Yogis as I can through weekly local classes and workshops around the UK. I also share as much information online on Sign Yoga’s social media platforms for people to access in their first language, British Sign Language. I have completely adapted my classes so that it is fully accessible; we practice Vinyasa and Hatha yoga with breath-work and mediation.
I remember a student of mine telling me they had turned up to a mainstream yoga class to be turned them away by the teacher because they were Deaf. It broke my heart to hear this, that the teacher was not confident enough to make small adaptions to make someone feel included. This led me to host a master-class on how to adapt your class for Deaf or HH Yogis that may turn up last minute, giving Yoga Teachers the confidence and making the student feel at ease. There are many techniques you can learn, despite not knowing British Sign Language. We mostly see teachers demonstrate at the front of the class or walk off from their mat and cue whilst walking around the room. These small things that make a great teacher, can make a bad class for someone that is trying to lip read or follow their demonstrations.
Many students have said how much Sign Yoga has helped them unwind, relax, concentrate, and switch off their thoughts. It’s made them feel happier, their bodies healthier and how they are healing their life through yoga. We all start Yoga for our own reasons and we all reap the benefits that we want from it. I just want to be able to give that opportunity to a community that I have grown up in for the last 28 years.