Warrior Flow Insiders: Jivana Heyman

Updated: May 11, 2020

1- In less than a minute, tell us who you are and why we keep hearing good things about you.

I’m the founder and director of Accessible Yoga, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making yoga accessible and equitable through education and advocacy. We have conferences, an ambassador program, and active Facebook groups to support teachers who are dedicated to sharing yoga with everyone who is interested. I also lead Accessible Yoga Trainings around the world, and I’m the author of the book, Accessible Yoga: Poses & Practices for Every Body.

2- What were the pivotal roadblocks and challenges you encountered along the way that helped you define your path?

I was an AIDS activist in the 80s and 90s fighting for the lives of my friends and community. It was a painful time, especially when my best friend died of AIDS in 1995. That was the same year I became a yoga teacher, and I realized that I could share yoga with the HIV/AIDS community. Being confronted with illness and death at a young age made me interested in the universal spiritual teachings of yoga. I found solace in the peace that the practice gave me, and I dedicated my life to sharing that peace with anyone who feels excluded, unloved, or disregarded.

Accessible Yoga is the form my service has taken in the world, and it’s my way to give back. I’m interesting in revealing the heart of the yoga teachings, which are by nature accessible and equitable.

3- Why did you choose this field? Who were your role models? And what pushed you to learn and become who you are?

I’ve always been interested in spiritual practice, but I wanted to find a spiritual practice that was focused on service and caring for others. To me, it’s not enough to sit and find peace myself. Spirituality is about revealing the connection that exists between me and other people. It’s about love. My role models have always been the people who are serving in the world without fanfare or notoriety. My role models are yoga teachers who are out in the world sharing yoga with their hearts open, touching lives, reaching people outside of the commercial yoga world. I know there are thousands of yoga teachers who bring yoga to prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and community centers. They may not get much attention or appreciation for what they do, but I see them.

4- What is your legacy? Do you care about leaving a legacy?

I hope that my legacy is one of loving service to others in the name of yoga. I hope that I can inspire other yoga teachers to understand the power of the teachings that they hold in their hands. We are the caretakers of a practice that is literally thousands and thousands of years old, a practice that can help us weather the storms of our lives, and touch the peace in our hearts. We hold the power of transformation, and the ability to turn pain into power. We so often underestimate the power and value of yoga.

5- What can we all do right now to make this world a better place?

I would say the most important thing we can do to make the world a better place is focus on service. That doesn’t simply mean volunteering. It means diving into our practice so we can have clarity of mind, and then use that clear vision to look at our lives and see where we can offer service. It may be service to ourselves, which takes the form of self-care. Or it can be service to our family, or our community. Service can simply be the way we care for our garden, the way we cook a meal, the way we listen lovingly to a friend. Service is acting with love, and that can make the world a better place.

6- In less than a minute, without sounding like a used car salesperson, tell us where to find you and what is the next big thing that everyone should be anticipating from you?

I’m looking forward to moving most of my offerings online. I’ll be sharing an Accessible Yoga Training online for the first time from June 15-19, and we’re moving the Accessible Yoga Conference online this October, which is a larger community event. I also have a Chair Yoga 101 course with Yoga Journal coming out on June 1st. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. _______

Warrior Flow Insiders is a series highlighting leaders and change agents in yoga, movement, mindfulness, mental health, social justice, and community outreach. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive future Insider profiles and other news from Warrior Flow. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Warrior Flow offers dozens of weekly online, donation-based classes in support of The Warrior Flow Foundation, including Vinyasa yoga, meditation, HIIT, Pilates, Barre, full-body workouts, Yin yoga, Restorative yoga, and much more.

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