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What is Yoga Quest?
How did you come up with the idea?
How long have you been hosting these classes?
Fan-fiction story-telling, can you elaborate a little on that?
I believe that narratives are inherently powerful. In addition to running YogaQuest, I also run a counseling business (also geared toward those who consider themselves outside the mainstream) and work primarily in a narrative therapy style. So pairing yoga with storytelling is doubly impactful in my opinion. The way that we use this for class is to adapt something from Fandom, such as the X-files, and take an episode to send up with a fan-fiction treatment of it – just whittling the story down and playing up the in-jokes, adding in yogiography – assigning poses to certain names, actions, and objects in the narrative. Then we have a narrator who literally reads this script while we do yoga. It’s sort of like Simon says, or a much more wholesome take on a drinking game.
I love that you guys are body positive. Why is that so important to you?
People come in all shapes, sizes, races, levels of ability, etc. It bothers me greatly that many wellness spaces are only set up for a certain type of person. In the yoga community, that type of person is overwhelmingly white, upper-middle class, slender women. If I was going to create a space that was safe for the geek community, I had to make sure that it was inclusive. Unfortunately much of what we see in the media is shaming of people’s bodies. The purpose of this is to keep people feeling constantly less than so that they will buy products and feed into the diet industry which makes billions of dollars off people’s insecurities. I believe that how a person looks is not an indicator of their health or well-being. We take a Health at Every Size approach at the studio. Encouraging people to eat mindfully and to move their bodies because they care about themselves, not because they hate themselves. The language at our studio is very different than you would find in many wellness environments. We talk about bodies with respect and gratitude rather than disgust.
How do you come up with your themes?
Luckily the community is always requesting something new, so we’re never at a loss for themes. And there are so many fandoms to choose from, we could theoretically do fan-fiction yogic adaptations forever.
Are poses influenced by the theme?
We gravitate towards an established set of poses for each quest. We tend to assign certain poses to specific character types. For instance, the hero in a story will often be Horse pose (a wide-legged, powerful stance), while the villain will be Eagle pose (a convoluted twisty pose that you want to get out of as soon as possible).
What’s been your favorite theme to do?
I just love making people laugh while they’re moving their bodies. Since “fitness” is so often advertised as having to be punishing of our bodies, if we can bring a smile to someone’s face, and they walk away realizing they moved their bodies and had fun doing it, I’m happy. We recently did an event at the Mn Science Museum where we presented a 4-part Zelda: Ocarina of time quest. Watching people rocking out their Navi pose (chair with airplane arms to imitate wings) while they chirped “hey! Listen!” That’s the stuff that makes this work so great.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?