A call for equality in the form of topless yoga
A Victoria woman is calling for yoga studios to be more inclusive, after she says she was discriminated against at a local studio.
Jenni Frizzley says she attended a hot yoga class at Quantum Yoga club, where the teacher said she could practice topless, after Frizzley asked to. Following the class, the Victoria woman says the instructor told her she would have to cover up for future classes, as other students found the nudity distracting.
"I'm not trying to force my boobs on anyone, but it's not equality, and it's not fair," says Frizzley.
She says there wasn’t a clear dress code and that she wasn’t trying to make a statement but was hot and felt more comfortable topless.
Quantum Yoga Club says it's the first time it's ever had the request, but will be looking at making it's dress code more clear.
"We, as a team need to do a better job explaining our policies and our dress code," Ken Mayes, owner of Quantum Yoga Club says.
"We're going to have that conversation, and we're happy to have it. It's long overdue."
Frizzley says it's common for men to go shirtless, but doesn't think it is fair that women are often discouraged from doing the same thing.
"I was told that it wasn't okay, even though it's okay for men to do it," Frizzley says. She wants to encourage local studios to update their policies to allow all genders to go topless, or require everyone to wear a shirt.
Ron Stewart, owner of Skyclad Yoga, has been running nude yoga classes for years and says he can see the situation from both sides.
"It's interesting circumstances, you have a room full of people who didn’t expect any level of nudity, it's bringing up a conversation of consent," says Stewart. "I give her kudos though, for her bravery."
Frizzley's request to bare it all has sparked debate.
"In Canada, the norm is for women to wear shirts," said Ida Winter, owner of Moksana Yoga. "People are still distracted when women [...] take off their shirts."
She questions whether society is at a point where it is able to drop the double standard.
Several other studios are also engaging in the conversation. The owner of Yoga Lab Victoria says she plans to talk to staff and the next team meeting. Holding top-optional classes is something she says she would be interested in, as long as her team members feel comfortable with the idea.
It's a change that Frizzley is hoping will come to the capital region.
"If someone is uncomfortable then I think we should support them where they are, and if someone is comfortable with going topless, then I think we need to support them and accept them as they are."
In the meantime, Frizzley has started a Facebook page, called "Topless Yoga Victoria," to create a community for people who feel more comfortable, shirtless.