The staff at Dancing Dogs Yoga / Courtesy photo

Dancing Dogs Makes Yoga Accessible to LGBTQ Community and Beyond

Yoga offers many benefits, both to physical and mental health, but for many, those benefits may seem available only to the white, straight-sized, middle-class women who dominate the yogic world. For those with different bodies or backgrounds, stepping into a yoga studio can be such an intimidating prospect that they opt not to at all. That’s something Jax Crowder and Dancing Dogs Yoga (DDY) are hoping to change. With trauma-aware practices, clear communication, and space that encourages everybody to be who they are, they’re making yoga accessible to all — especially the LGBTQ community.

On the first Saturday of every month at noon, DDY hosts Queer Yoga + Margs. The practice is taught by Crowder, a nonbinary energy healer, reiki practitioner, and yoga instructor.

“I’m very masculine presenting, so I often feel like I’m misgendered everywhere,” Crowder told Georgia Voice. “For me, having a space that’s designated for the queer community gives me space to be my authentic self. I know people in the queer community that are yearning for a place to belong, and there’s not a lot of yoga studios that offer queer offerings, that offer that space to explore the yogic practice without fear of being judged … Having a brave space for people to be who they are without judgment is not a place you can find very often, especially in the yoga community.”

The event offers the opportunity for both self-love and community. The yoga practice allows for reconnection with yourself and the margaritas (or nonalcoholic beverages) that follow allow for reconnection with others in the LGBTQ community. This month’s event on May 6 will be special, with drag queens in attendance to benefit Front Runners Atlanta’s Pride Run fundraising.

The intention of queer yoga is the intention with all of DDY’s classes: to make accessible the physical, mental, and spiritual healing of yoga. Beyond the scientifically proven benefit of movement and exercise on mental health, Crowder says the practice of bringing mindfulness to both their body and spiritual energy has made a difference in their mental health.

“Your physical body manifests things that happen to you,” they said. “Being able to be mindful of your energy, of where it’s going, who you’re giving your energy to, and how much energy you’re taking on from others allows for mindfulness so you’re more attuned to what you’re doing in that specific moment — but it also allows for you to readjust where to put your energy next … My ability to work on my own energy, to work on my own physical and energy bodies, and setting boundaries and expectations has helped my mental health. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it definitely helps. The addition of mindfulness and presence, the connection of mind, body, and spirit, that full-body circle has helped my mental health a lot … I have seen for myself that [yoga] allows me to deepen my practice and find more meditative states.”

Accessibility does not begin and end with the LGBTQ community at DDY. Crowder teaches their classes with what they call a “trauma aware” framework. Instead of setting a pace for the class to breathe and move at the same time, they offer a more fluid, individually paced approach. Modifications to every pose are offered in case a student can’t do or hold the original pose comfortably. Gendered names of poses are made gender neutral to further affirm nonbinary students and hands-on assists are available, but given with strict consent: Nonverbal consent coins reading “yes” and “no” are placed on each mat. They start flipped to “no” because “consent is never assumed,” Crowder says, and they can be flipped back and forth with each pose because “consent is never permanent.”

DDY has attracted an “extremely diverse” group of students because of these accessibility practices as well as their diverse staff: many instructors are bigger bodied, BIPOC, and/or queer.

“My biggest thing is that I want somebody to show up as their true, authentic self regardless of any factors that would get in the way of that,” Crowder said. “… I’ve never found a community quite like DDY. I’ve never found a space that provides such an emphasis on showing your students that you give a shit about them.”

Georgia Voice readers can get 30 days of unlimited yoga for $30 ($19 off) with code VOICE at Learn more and view their full class schedule at