Yoga For All

Yoga For All

Special Olympics Colorado athlete, Bella Larsen, has been doing yoga since she was little. Through the years, Bella said yoga has helped with her mental health and overall wellbeing.

Back in January, Bella began a Peer to Peer All Abilities Yoga Teacher Training through Guided By Humanity, a non-profit organization that specializes in “yoga for everyBODY and everyABILITY.”

A couple years ago, Guided By Humanity started thinking about how they could make All Abilities Yoga even more inclusive and empowering for their students. They decided they could help their most dedicated and interested students learn how to teach and lead classes, which led to the Peer to Peer All Abilities Yoga Teacher Training.

After participating in a 2020 Special Olympics Colorado Virtual Wellness challenge, in which Guided By Humanity provided yoga sessions, Bella was asked if she wanted to be part of the teacher training program. She was excited to accept because she thought it be a wonderful thing for her be an all abilities teacher

The Peer to Peer All Abilities Teacher Training is a 6-to 8-month program for individuals who want to learn how to lead All Abilities Yoga classes. Bella, along with three other trainees, meet on Zoom every week to study and learn together. Bella has a mentor, Kathleen, that she works closely with to build upon the skills she has learned in the weekly group sessions. She also takes one or more All Abilities Yoga classes every week to practice the skills she is learning. Bella also mentioned that her mom and cousin, who is a yoga instructor, also help her with her training.

When Bella first started the training, she said she was nervous. “I get shy easily and I wasn’t a very outgoing person when I started this,” she said. “But now I’m like ok, I can do this. They taught me to just be yourself and yoga doesn’t have to be perfect.”

Through the training, Bella said she is learning a lot, specifically about breathing, stretching and how to be safe doing yoga. She said that Guided By Humanity has emphasized that safety is really important during yoga so that people don’t hurt themselves in poses.

“Part of my training is really simple,” Bella explained. “First, you do breathing exercises and then you go into different poses. Then, if people want to, they can stand up. Then meditation and call it a day.” Bella emphasized that there are things that everyone can do in class.

Bella’s favorite part about the Peer to Peer All Abilities Yoga Teacher Training is that she doesn’t feel alone. “I have other people willing to be part of it, which is cool,” she said.

Bella mentioned that the skills she’s learned through being a Fitness Captain and Athlete Leadership University (ALU) has helped her throughout her training. “The first class teaching me to be a leader has been really helpful in the skills that I’m learning and overcoming,” said Bella.

Once she completes her training, there will be a graduation ceremony on July 26. Then, Bella will have a year-long internship at Guided By Humanity, where she can assist in the All Abilities Yoga classes alongside another teacher. After her internship, she will be able to move into a Lead Teacher position and teach All Abilities Yoga in a supported work setting.

Through this training, Bella’s goal is to eventually teach classes for Special Olympics Colorado and possibly at Children’s Hospital as well. “I spent part of my life at Children’s Hospital and I think the people there will benefit from yoga,” said Bella. “I felt very isolated in the hospital and I feel like giving them yoga as part of their life will make them feel empowered.”

Bella said that many other yoga studios struggle with teaching her because of her disability. “Guided By Humanity knows how to teach me and my other friends, but I wish that other studios and teaching places could teach everyone because we’re equal like everybody else,” Bella explained.

Bella believes All Abilities Yoga is important because it’s important to include others. “I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt left out because of my disability and Special Olympics and Guided By Humanity want everyone to be included,” said Bella. “All Abilities Yoga is important because you can move your body in a way that is comfortable to you and you can be with other people like you.”

Interested being part of the next Peer to Peer All Abilities Yoga Teacher Training program? Email Rachel Kaplan, Guided By Humanity’s Program Manager, at

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