Jade Salter, full time yoga teacher in Montreal since 2013, is now starting a new very particular project in Saint-Henri. Her dream of inclusivity and acceptance has now become true with the help of Ambaa Yoga center, a non-profit yoga school in Montreal. At Ambaa Yoga, every class is created for different types of people; there is yoga for kids, round-bodied people, senior people and even yoga specific for people fighting cancer. But Jade was looking for a safe space for another minority: queer and trans* identifying people, with all allies welcomed. She started those classes only five weeks ago, and she already has frequent yoga amateurs coming for some crazy yoga learning.
The idea emerged when Jade felt pressured by students or even other yoga teachers to hide a new arm tattoo. “My queer self was having to be masked or changed in some way. There was a huge part of me that I wasn’t able to share or even to be in front of the students.” In the same time span, she also talked to a friend of hers, who identify as a trans man. He was trying to include yoga in his life routine, but was pressured to take his top off in a class, although he explained he was at that time wearing a binder for his chest. This experience was an instant turn-off to his interest in yoga, and Jade felt the urge of creating a safe space for people like her friend even stronger.
I was there for the fifth class of her innovative project, and I was impressed by the kindness with which Jade was teaching her students. She was warm, smiling, helping and open to any questions and discussions. Everyone could come and go without a peep, or stay and talk without fear. When I talked with her for some questions about her new class (that turned into a two hour discussion about many different and passionate subjects), she insisted that her goal was to create a no-standard place, where everybody could feel comfortable in their body, their clothes, their identity and their sexual expressions, because those things are not important. What is important is you: yourself and your own progress as a human being. Jade wishes to take yoga, massage and therapeutics out of the world of luxury and place them in communities that need it the most: low income people, minorities and even prisoners. With this project, she’s living a big part of her dream of inclusion, and it is truly beautiful to see.
Ambaa Yoga being a non-profit organisation, the QueerTrans Yoga classes run on donations, which make the inclusion even more wide. Jade is also working hard on using gender-neutral language in her classes, mainly because she knows that non-binary and trans-people often have to face micro-aggressions like misgendering or common stereotypes. A gender-neutral language makes place for anybody to be at ease in a class where, in the end, we all just want to be happy and balanced in our body and in our mind. Ambaa yoga is also a place where the changing rooms and the bathrooms are gender neutral; the beginning of QueerTrans yoga was just a matter of time!
For now, QueerTrans yoga Montreal is offering one class a week, but Jade is actually working on opening other classes during the week.
I strongly recommend anyone identifying as queer and/or trans to consider trying Jade’s class if they are interested in yoga, and any ally of those groups are also welcomed!