Healing a Community: Queer & Trans-Centered Yoga Comes to Bushwick

Taylor Lhamon

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A small revolution is happening in Bushwick. Every Friday, at 2 p.m. 

In a time of social and political turbulence, self-care becomes an act of protest, particularly for those in oppressed, marginalized communities. To combat the constant retraumitazation of the LGBTQ+ population, Sasha Sigel has developed Queer and Trans Yoga at Daya Yoga Studio in Bushwick. 

Queer and Trans Yoga (or QT, as it’s more affectionately known by the group) is a place of healing. The shift in dynamic is immediately noticeable when entering the room. Rather than a traditional studio set-up, QT draws yogis together in a circle, with a small altar at its center. Class begins with a check-in, each person introducing themselves by name and gender pronouns, followed by a collective flow, in which Sigel practices alongside the rest of her community. 

At the core of QT is Sigel’s trauma-sensitive training, with an acute focus on boosting consent culture. “Everything you do with your body is up to you,” Sigel explains. “We’re working to disrupt the power dynamics between teacher and student by asking people to choose how they want to use their bodies.” 

Sasha Sigel at Daya Yoga Studio.

This includes incredible specificity of language. You won’t find Sigel instructing the class to move from plank into downward dog, but rather presenting the invitation to flow through one of many vinyasa options. A choose-your-own-adventure, placing each practicing yogi in the driver’s seat of their experience. Katie Pierce, an active QT member, elaborates, “Your body is the teacher in these classes. Sasha’s guidance fades away and your intuition and appreciation⁠—for your body, your identity, and the people around you⁠—rises up to fill the void.”

Another unique element of QT yoga is its unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. Most spaces in our society are created by and for dominant populations. The marginalized are often expected to assimilate into structures that either ignore or exclude their identities. 

“We have one hour per week to reinvent the dynamics and boundaries of the space, and shape it to fit the needs of those within it,” said Sigel about designing QT. “This class is for trans and queer folx to simply be in our own community without navigating other dynamics.” Allies are appreciated, but this class is not for them.

QT yoga attendees. 

The exclusivity alone has proven to act as a healing agent. As QT member Ani Rider details, “So many yoga classes are so difficult for me to go to because, as a transwoman, my body is markedly different than a lot of people in the room. But at QT yoga, I’m surrounded by people who I know are working through many of the same struggles with identity and body dysmorphia.”

The final, essential element of this class is accessibility. Too often self-care comes with a hefty price tag. This Bushwick-based studio is actively responding to the needs of its LGBT+ community by providing multiple payment options. Yogis can participate through studio membership, Classpass, or donation. Daya’s dedication to accessibility is allyship in action, and this commitment does not go unnoticed. HK Goldstein expresses their gratitude, “There are few spaces that are genuinely accessible and helpful to QT folks. I’m so grateful to Daya for making this a priority. Being trans is scary. Sasha and her class give us refuge.”

Pay what you can. Come as you are.

Queer and Trans Yoga takes place on Fridays at 2 p.m. at Daya Studio at  360 Jefferson St, off the Jefferson L stop. Book a class here.

All photography by Taylor Lhamon for Bushwick Daily.

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