When Yoga Goes Bad: Heather Lilleston and Katelin Sisson on the Balance Between Work and Play

 

PHOTOS VIA YOGA FOR BAD PEOPLE, ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRIS ARUNDEL, WORDS BY CARA BEST

Welcome to Health and Wellness Month on The Assemblist! This week we're sharing a feature from the second issue of our print publication on Yoga for Bad People! You've probably seen Yoga for Bad People on Instagram, in Self Magazine, on The Coveteur or featured in any number of outlets that consistently showcase the initiative started by Heather Lilleston and Katelin Sisson just four years ago. But what exactly is Yoga for Bad People and are you "bad" enough to qualify? We got the low down from Heather and Katelin on how their yoga and wellness retreats began, who's invited, and how much yoga is actually involved.


Can you tell us how yoga for bad people began?

YFBP began with an initial retreat we taught in Brazil in 2012 which we called "Yoga for Bad People." On that retreat, we wanted people both inside and outside of the yoga community to feel included. We wanted to teach solid, intelligent yoga classes that held true to the tradition of yoga. but also left enough space for people to have a little fun.

We wanted people to know that they could come as they are and still benefit from yoga. That it is to be taken one step at a time and that everyone is invited. Now, nine trips to Brazil later, fifteen retreats per year to various locations all around the world, events, classes, workshops, merchandise, and teacher trainings we are going strong with the main initiative to get as many people practicing as possible. To make yoga not only accessible, but playful and welcoming.

what does wellness mean to you?

To us, "wellness" is an individual formula that makes a person feel, well, good. On our retreats, we offer what works for us as a structure to lean on with plenty of room for personalization and spontaneity. This includes daily athletic yoga and sometimes cardio and mediation. We don't like to assume that we know what is best for you.

what's a misconception about wellness you hope to eradicate?

That it is a universal entity that functions that same for everyone. That just because a certain diet or workout works for someone that it will work the same for you. It is all about the investigation of what makes you feel well. Another element of wellness, which is often left out, is the way we treat others. This directly effects how you feel about yourself and, according to some yoga traditions, whether or not these wellness practices actually work for you.

what role does travel play in both mental and physical health?

Just to step outside of the place we dwell, exiting our own comforts (regardless of how free we think we are from them) opens us up to an IRL view of what is happening out there. Often, it is impossible to see the places where we may be stuck in our lives until we take a step outside of the routine. When you are out of context, new parts of yourself emerge. It's inspiring and life changing.