11 October 2010

Yoga for People with Disabilities

I have a student who is deaf. We have been working together privately for two years, and he is now taking weekly classes and participating in a meditation group. His bravery outweighs his frustration and is fueled by his desire to walk the yogic path. I honor him and am humbled by him, plus he makes me laugh!

Deaf Yoga Foundation was founded in 2007 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing yoga to this community. They use sign language, which does not work for all deaf people. Some rely on reading lips like my student does. There has also been some progress made for people who are visually challenged. Gretchen Hein, a Kripalu instructor, has created a program for the blind.

When I was a new teacher, I had a student in a wheelchair. I wasn't sure what to do with him, but yoga works when you let it and he had no problem with the class - it was a great lesson for me. This month's artwork is a tribute to that student - Bobby Swain.

Integral Yoga's Accessible Yoga Teacher Training is a 400-hour teacher training certification program specifically designed for training people with disabilities. It meets national standards and focuses on being available to people who have paralysis, a disability, chronic illness, or physical limitations. I highly recommend reading Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence by Matthew Sanford. When he was 13, he was paralyzed in a car accident from the chest down. Matthew is now a yoga instructor and recently taught a workshop in Virginia Beach.

Any kind of disability could discourage a person from attempting to practice yoga. When I broke my leg 6 years ago, I was unable to do any standing postures for nearly a year. My practice changed drastically - but I had a practice to draw from and knew what it could do for me. I am grateful every day for my teachers, their teachers, and especially my students who always teach me more than they could possibly imagine. Namaste`