ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO - A new yoga studio in St. Charles County aims to make yoga accessible for everyone. Classes cater to the under-served communities who may shy away from practicing yoga at a traditional studio.
After practicing yoga for ten years and teaching it for five, Nichole DiGiuseppi noticed certain groups were being left out. She and her wife opened The Bee's Knees Yoga (2309 Highway K) in O'Fallon, Missouri on August 3.
Classes cater to the LGBTQIA+ community, elderly, people of all sizes, people living with chronic illnesses or chronic pain, veterans, people living with PTSD and trauma, and the list continues to expand. Instructors come with diverse backgrounds and experiences and either belong to the community they serve or have extensive experience working with the community.
"When (students) see other people like themselves, and they have a teacher that is part of that community, it just makes them feel seen and heard," said DiGiuseppi.
On Wednesdays, DiGiuseppi teaches the LGBTQIA+ Community Class with gender-neutral language. Since the studio opened earlier this month, she said this has been one of their most well-attended classes.
"It gives a safe space for the community to feel vulnerable," said Mallory Box of O'Fallon. "When you're doing yoga, you need that safe, calm feeling."
Box and her wife, Beth, said The Bee's Knees Yoga offers a comfortable environment where they can be themselves. Beth said, as a same-sex couple, it can be intimidating to take yoga classes with heterosexual couples.
"It can be potentially embarrassing if there are people there that are uncomfortable with that," said Beth.
In trauma-sensitive classes, some poses have been renamed to avoid triggers. Consent cards are passed out at the start of class so students can let the instructor know if they are comfortable with hands-on guidance and adjustments or if they would prefer their space.
All classes at The Bee's Knees Yoga cater to the ability and comfort of the students. Instructor offer variations of each pose to accommodate all levels.
It is a place free of judgment, competition, and expectation.
"A lot of times they feel like they have to wear the typical yoga clothes, and they feel more comfortable in basketball shorts and a tee shirt and socks," said DiGiuseppi.
Other classes include creative and restorative yoga for children with ASD and ADHD, body positive classes, and donation-based classes with proceeds benefiting a non-profit.