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I've been thinking about starting this blog for a long time, so here we go....

The fact is, I have an ulterior motive for blogging: After teaching adaptive yoga for twenty years, and leading lots of teacher trainings, I really need to create an updated manual for my Accessible Yoga Teacher Trainings. The problem is that I don't have time to do it. So, here it is, the beginning of my new Accessible Yoga Teacher Training manual, written in weekly sections.

It will be a regular practice. Like my friend Barbara Hirsch, who always writes one article a week for her EcoFacts. That's impressive, and I hope I have the discipline for it.

Interestingly, discipline is really at the core of Yoga. Tapas is sometimes defined as discipline although it's usually referred to as accepting pain for purification...but I'm already off topic. I wanted to focus this blog on my motivation for creating the Accessible Yoga Project, and the Accessible Yoga Teacher Trainings.

If you know me, you've probably heard me talk about my best friend, Kurt, who died of AIDS in 1995. That was the same year that I was certified as a yoga teacher (after four years of training by my mentor, Kazuko Onodera - which is a story for another day). Kurt inspired me to follow my heart, and to be fearless. He found joy in life, and somehow in death. He accepted his illness and death in a way that changed my view of the world, and the way I perceived the human condition.

Through illness Kurt kept a positive attitude, a kind heart, and open mind. I remember visiting him in the hospital on many occasions, and he would be surrounded by nurses and staff talking to him about their problems. It was revolutionary to see him retain his dignity and happiness through the pain and torture of his illness. In the process, Kurt showed me that illness can be a path to healing - deep spiritual healing that transcends the physical body.

These lessons stayed with me as I began teaching Yoga for Healing classes at the S.F. Integral Yoga Institute, and California Pacific Medical Center. I taught these classes for almost 15 years, learning from each of my students how to face illness and handle the challenges life gives you. My students inspired me to create the Accessible Yoga Teacher Training in 2007. I had be leading Basic Yoga Teacher Training programs for ten years, and I saw that many people coming to these programs had very little experience practicing Yoga. On the other hand, I had students with disabilities who had years of dedicated practice under their belts, but who felt that a Yoga teacher training program would be beyond their capacity.

In particular, Patrice Priya Wagner, inspired me to create this program by her sheer bravery and dedication to Yoga. With support from Ian Waisler, and moral support from Swami Vimalananda, we created a program designed to teach people with disabilities and chronic illness to become Yoga teachers. It was a roller coaster ride, but what a great group we graduated.

It was also a graduation for me. I realized that I could give people the tools they need to heal themselves - not always on a physical level, but more importantly, on a spiritual one. Yoga offers these incredible opportunities for us; to bend gracefully when life tries to knock us down; to fill our own hearts with joy and love rather than waiting for someone else to do it for us. Yoga has given me all of this and more. I'm so happy that I get to share it with others. Simply put, the purpose of the Accessible Yoga Project is to share yoga with people who feel like they can't get to a Yoga class, or who have been told that Yoga isn't for them. It's about empowerment, independence, and freedom.

 


Comments

Soco
08/08/2014 7:44am

Thank you!!
First of all for the kindness and honesty in your writing :) I felt as if you were right in front while I am drinking my morning coffee.
I still don't have the luck to meet you personally, maybe one of these future days. I live in Mexicali, in Baja California, México (2 hours from Tijuana to the east for better reference).
I practice Integral Yoga here. Found a little nice place with a yoga teacher who practiced and got her certificate in Argentina.
Thank you again for the time offered to all writing this Blog! Wish you the best of experiences doing it and again, thank you for the openhearted way of your writing.
Namaste. _/\_
Soco

Reply
Jivana
08/08/2014 4:25pm

Dear Soco,
Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It's very meaningful since it's my first blog post. I'm so glad to hear you're practicing Integral Yoga in Mexico. Maybe some day you can come visit Santa Barbara, where I live. I'm working on an Accessible Yoga Conference for fall 2015 - so that would be a great time to visit. Om Shanti, Jivana

Reply
Soco
03/14/2016 11:06pm

Dear Jivana,
Almost two years after the first encounter I had with you and Accessible Yoga, now I am happy to tell you that the past January I had the chance to study with Sivakami Sonia Sumar and I just started a practice of Yoga for the Special Child in Mexicali. It is called "Beyond - Accessible Yoga and Meditation." I was not able to attend the first conference in 2015, but I am hoping to be at the second one in Santa Barbara this year. It is wonderful to see how life unfolds. Thank you for your dedication and love imprinted in this project. Hope to be one of your students in a near future.
A lotus for you,
Soco

Patrice Priya Wagner
08/08/2014 4:51pm

Although I enjoyed taking gentle and adaptive yoga classes in 2007 I never imagined I could enroll in a teacher training program. My toughest challenge from having Multiple Sclerosis was living with severe fatigue.

When Jivana organized an Accessible Teacher Training that offered short classes twice a week for eight months, the idea of participating in a teacher training was no longer out of my reach. The chance to deepen my practice or teach became a viable option for me!

Little did I know that Jivana’s training would not only change my way of thinking about having a chronic disability but would, in fact, change my life. I acquired tools that helped me gain confidence and peace of mind in situations that previously would have thrown me off balance. Soon I learned that the serenity was always within me—-the training helped show me how to access it when needed.

I’m looking forward to reading the weekly blog posts about the manual!

Reply
Gregory Merena
08/08/2014 10:46pm

That is Beautiful! I appreciate your vision. Do you know of Matthew Sanford and MindBody Solutions? Here is a link: http://www.mindbodysolutions.org/about/matthew-sanford/

I am glad you are doing all you are doing!

Peace to your heart,
Gregory

Reply
Jivana
08/09/2014 8:27am

Gregory,
Thanks for mentioning Matthew Sanford. He and I are in touch, and we're working together on an Accessible Yoga Conference that will take place in the fall of 2015 in Santa Barbara, CA. He'll be our keynote speaker! It will be a weekend of learning and connection with adaptive yoga teachers and students from all over. Maybe you can join us? I'll have more info about it on this website in the coming months.
Om
Jivana

Reply
Anita Santi
08/09/2014 6:57am

Dear Jivana,

You are an amazing teacher. In the time we've known each other you have become a dear life guide for me. As life continues to unfold, your kindness continues to resonate. The yoga of welcome, calmness and appreciation of others was celebrated in your classes. Those teachings and practices continue to draw me further into a living yoga practice on a daily basis. Please continue to be that gentle presence. Thank you for this blog.

Reply
Barbara
08/09/2014 8:20am

Jivana, this is a beautifully written moving introduction to your blog and manual! I am always glad to get to know you better, and these writings will illuminate you as well as your subject, which is so clearly of great value to our world.

Reply

Dear Jivana,
I do appreciate this NOBLE and USEFUL action of yours.
I hereby give my availability to support this endeavour.
And I thank you for your being so special.

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