Blog 2017-08-10T04:16:40+00:00

10 Ways to Make Yoga Accessible by Christa Fairbrother

This post was originally published by Sivani East Yoga teachers are generally a pretty healthy lot so it’s easy to forget that 40% of Americans have a chronic illness. Being one of the 133 million people in this country with a chronic disease, as well as a yoga teacher, I’m more sensitive to the unseen issues students might have when they step on to the mat. Yoga is an amazing tool for managing many chronic diseases, but as yoga teachers, we need to do more to make our classes accessible to all students. If this sounds intimidating, remember it’s not about remembering a vast number of medical facts and yoga contraindications, as much as it is just a subtle shift in our attitude. Here are 10 different ideas to incorporate into classes: Be a Good Listener We don’t know what our student’s needs are unless we’re listening to what they’re telling us. If our students need help with a particular posture we need to hear that. If they’re expressing fear or concern we need to reassure them. If they’re saying one thing verbally but their bodies are saying something different, we need to listen to both. Make it Fun It’s true that yoga can be hard physically, emotionally and spiritually. But there’s no reason we can’t have a little fun while doing the work. Real life is serious enough, so we can be a little lighter while we’re on the mat. Phrases like “slumpasana” are factually true and more fun [...]

How Yoga Saved My Life and Keep My Body Moving by Lori Pierce

I started yoga back in 2010. I had just been sidelined from work and knew I needed to start focusing on some other things in life, like taking care of my body - as a job. At the time of my first class, I was unable to put socks on by myself without an assistive device or my husband's help. My flexibility was all but non-existent. It's not superb now, but it's improved. Thanks to yoga. Yoga helped me so much more than physically. The increased movement was what opened the door for me. Then, the community of people that I started finding myself around was so welcoming. People wanted to understand my condition and wanted to be able to help me lead an easier life. Through the yoga studio, I was turned onto massage therapy. I had been for massages before, and yet, when I met Annette my massage life changed. I now get a weekly massage - hands on my muscles, as well as another set of eyes, so to speak, that is in tune with me and aware of when things are different and might need some extra attention. Annette is also a yoga instructor. At the beginning of our relationship, we also began one-on-one yoga sessions. She was able to help me learn how to modify postures so that I was reaping the benefits, even if I didn't look like a Yoga Journal model. The additional ideas were confidence builders and helped me realize even more that [...]

The Eye of the Storm by Jivana Heyman

This post was originally published on Yoga for Healthy Aging With the recent series of natural disasters around the world and endless mass shootings, there seems to be so much suffering and devastation happening right now. It’s hard to read the news without feeling sad or depressed. On top of all that, I’ve been having a very difficult time since my mother passed away this summer. Her death was beautiful in many ways, but I’ve never felt grief like this before. It’s an odd feeling, like that nauseated feeling you get in an elevator when it starts or stops. She was always a strong presence in my life and an incredible support to me. As the weeks pass, I find myself slowly coming back to steady ground but it’s hard to know how hard to push myself back to my everyday life. There is so much work to do in daily life: cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry. I used to get all of that done and still be available to take care of other people, but now I’m trying to figure out how to take care of myself. I remember one time I was at a talk with my teacher Swami Satchidananda, and someone asked him how much time we should put into taking care of ourselves versus doing service for others. He responded, “There is no limit to how much you should care for yourself. Spend as much time as you need. If you take good care of [...]

Yoga Service by Becca Curry

I went to the prison facility just like I do each Wednesday. I signed in and said hello to the officers at the main entrance. Then I was told Correctional Officer who usually accompanies me was out that day. What did that mean for my weekly yoga class? Well, the staff had to find another officer who would be willing to sit in on my class. I took a deep breath. Smiling, I asked how I could assist the process and provided a list of participants to the officer. Then I was told Count happens at the same time of the class and I would have to wait until that cleared prior to my entering the facility. I inhaled for a count of three and exhaled for a count of three. I sat in a chair, closed my eyes, and focused on my breathing. Fifteen minutes later another Officer greeted me and we walked to the space where we practice yoga. I thanked him for volunteering to be with us so we could have our class. When we got to the space, I was informed that Count could talk up to 30 minutes to complete, after which participants could come down. Together we waited. Again, sitting in a chair, I began to breathe deeply. Twenty five minutes later, I heard an announcement to come down for yoga. Over the next fifteen minutes, participants trickled in to our space. I welcomed each individual with a smile and a handshake. And [...]

Accessible Yoga Conference: An Interview With Jivana Heyman

This interview was originally posted on SF Yoga Mag by Dana Lee Jivana Heyman, founder of the Accessible Yoga Conference, admits that he is jealous of the talented people he knows teaching yoga at the conference in San Francisco October 6 – 8th.  He laughs when he says this, exposing his staggering humility. He seems completely unaware that through his radiant love, he has transformed the suffering of others into inclusivity, healing and hope, and developed a worldwide sangha dedicated to bringing yoga to all people, regardless of ability. He works to change our skinny notions of what a yoga teacher should be. His passion to include everyone in the healing circle of yoga resounds in something he says often: “community is key to the resurrection of hope." This incredible weekend conference will include asana classes, workshops, and panel discussions with senior yoga teachers on ways we can make yoga available to everyone. It was my honor to talk with him, learn about the sangha he is growing, and to feel his tender heart of love. What was your path to growing a passion for accessible yoga? I was always searching for answers, like everyone else. I am gay, and I guess I’ve always felt different than everyone else. I think it was a gift because it caused me to ask deeper questions. I feel lucky because I’ve had a chance to practice yoga since I was a kid. My grandmother practiced yoga. But it wasn’t until after college when [...]

I’m Not Just Another Therapy By Cheryl Albright

I was born with the most amazing teacher that never said a word. I could tell with a look in his eyes and his body language and gesture what he was thinking, what he wanted, and he was being mischievous. My teacher was my older brother and he has autism. Communicating without language was normal to me growing up. I knew that I would be working with people with disabilities from a very young age. Part of being autistic is you can’t express emotions in words. So this something that was never modeled. My brother could not say he was mad but demonstrated that with behaviors such as shutting down, bolting, or in severe cases breaking a window. When I was 12 and my brother was 16, out of the blue my parents split up and my brother was sent to live in a group home. In order to cope, I turned to drugs and alcohol. Sometimes I act out to get attention. My favorite example is when I decided to pierce my tongue because my father was a dentist. Somehow, I was able to pull it together to get through college. I was done with the drugs and moderated the alcohol. In 2009, my accountant said to go take a course for a tax right off. I chose Yoga for The Special Child. They taught that this is not just another therapy. In order for this method to be as affective as [...]