Four Questions with Mookaite Jasper

A dreamy pastel coloured background, featuring purple and green mandalas, with the words "Queer Yoga and Sober Social. Led by Mookaite Jasper."

Queer Yoga is a safe and joyful space for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community to unwind and celebrate their queerness.

We sat down with Mookaite for a quick Q&A to learn more about what participants can expect from the session.

Mookaite, a non-binary person, sits cross-legged on a striped mat, they have their hands palm up on their knees and their eyes closed.

(Photo Credit: Lorraine Gill @2teas)

Hi Mookaite, please can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

I’m a non-binary yoga teacher based in Middlesbrough, and I founded Queer Yoga North last year to teach classes specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community. I like the softer, more restorative side of yoga. After my yoga teacher training in York, I went on to study Yin Yoga which is lower to the ground, with long holds of the postures. I’m really interested in inclusivity in the yoga industry. I also trained with the Accessible Yoga School, and I’m currently studying chair yoga to teach elderly people. Yoga is for all bodies. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. But I feel like it’s not always represented like that in the Westernised Instagram stereotype of a yoga class!

Can you tell us a bit more about your past teaching experiences and how you became a yoga practitioner?

I was a teacher of English before I taught yoga. I taught English as a Foreign Language and lived abroad for almost 10 years in Dubai, Thailand and Japan. I started practising yoga in Thailand, partly for the mental health benefits. I have bipolar disorder, and yoga is now a key part of my self-care. It helps me to slow down and keeps me grounded and centred. I wanted to become a yoga teacher to share that gift with others, to pass on those same tools that have been gifted to me, and to help people find their own individual paths to well-being. The LGBTQIA+ community is particularly affected by mental health issues, so I feel like yoga is even more important for us, but sadly not all yoga classes make queer people feel comfortable for various reasons.

You’re the founder of Queer Yoga North; what inspired you to set up that network?

Before setting up Queer Yoga North, I co-founded an LGBTQIA+ book club in Middlesbrough called Queer Base. We began doing other events besides the book club, like creative writing, and I decided to offer some Queer Yoga. It proved really popular, and I expanded from having groups in Saltburn and Middlesbrough to setting up in York and Scarborough. More recently, I’ve also set up monthly events in Newcastle, Durham and Leeds. I’m super excited to be bringing Queer Yoga to the ARC too! The idea behind Queer Yoga is to create a safe space for LGBTQIA+ folx to come into their bodies to find healing and joy through movement, breathwork and meditation. It’s about putting our queerness centre stage among like-minded people, to simply be ourselves in this moment, fully accepted exactly as we are.

What can people who are coming along for the first time expect from one of your Queer Yoga workshops?

It’s a really relaxed vibe rather than a workout class! There will be lots of options offered so you can adapt and make the practice your own. The emphasis is on listening to your body. We’ll start with a little meditation and breathwork lying down (or on a chair), getting cosy under blankets with cushions. Then we’ll do a gentle warm-up to start connecting the breath with movement. We’ll work our way up to standing, or maybe some of us will stay on a chair, and the invitation is to get playful and curious, to start embodying the queer theme of the class through the postures – knowing that there’s really no right or wrong! At the end, we’ll come back to the mat for relaxation or maybe stay on the chair, and we’ll finish with an optional discussion around the theme of the class. If you would prefer to stay in your inward space, you can curl up under the blankets and rest; there’s no need to talk to anyone if you don’t feel like it. The class is completely suitable for beginners, and chair options for all postures will be offered for those who are not coming down to the mat.

Queer Yoga and Sober Social takes place on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month. You can book tickets here.