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

My Vision and Passion: Yoga for EveryBODY! by Catherine Kalyani Sjolund

My Vision and Passion: Yoga for EveryBODY! by Catherine Kalyani Sjolund Yoga should be for everybody; not just the physically fit. It can be for all people; even people with back problems, shoulder weaknesses, balancing trouble, disabilities or whatever physical weakness a person has encountered in life. Earlier this year, I attended an enlightened, amazing conference; created by Jivana Heyman, co-owner of the Santa Barbara Yoga Center. The Accessible Yoga Conference, which had numerous guest speakers from across the United States, shared how to give access to yoga for all people; to improve their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. They also provided workshops so participants gained skills to work with a variety of demographics including; yoga for Arthritis, lower back pains, MS, Yoga for the Special Child, and Accessible Yoga. What I love about Accessible Yoga is it’s for all beginning levels. So if you need to do yoga in a chair or can’t get on the floor, you can still participate in a group yoga class. Say you want to do yoga standing but have poor balance and need a little extra assistance, try it using the wall. The beauty of this class is it builds community & self-confidence. The teacher skillfully sets everyone up for success as the class gets to center themselves through breathing techniques, and improves strength, flexibility and concentration as well as strengthening bone density. I recently received an Accessible Yoga Certification so that I can provide these important and inclusive classes to our community! I have also [...]

NYC Conference to Make Yoga More Accessible for People With Chronic Illness by Renée Canada, The Mind-Body Shift

NYC Conference to Make Yoga More Accessible for People with Chronic Illness by Renee Canada Reposted from The Mind-Body Shift I am super jazzed to announce that I will be attending the Accessible Yoga Conference in NYC at the Integral Yoga Institute NYC on May 19-21 of this year! The aim of the Accessible Yoga Conference is to provide education, supportive resources and community for those who seek to increase the accessibility of yoga  to meet the needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, seniors, and other folks who may not feel like they fit into a regular yoga class. As someone studying and teaching yoga with autoimmune disease and a movement disorder–dystonia– attending this conference is truly a dream come true. My personal mission for many years has been to help people with chronic illness and pain to gain the knowledge and tools for greater healing and empowerment. At the Accessible Yoga Conference, I will be so thrilled to learn from incredible and inspirational adaptive yoga teachers, including Matthew Sanford, founder of Mind Body Solutions and author of the memoir Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence; yoga therapist Steffany Moonaz, PhD, founder of Yoga for Arthritis; Cheri Clampett, founder and director of the Therapeutic Yoga Training Program; Mindy Eisenberg, author of Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body and founder of Yoga Moves MS; and Yoga For All (Shapes, Sizes and Abilities) teacher Dianne Bondy. It will be a full weekend of educational workshops, classes and panel discussions on making yoga more adaptable and accessible to people of all abilities. I received word today that I have been offered a [...]

Making Yoga Philosophy Accessible – Part 1, by Jivana Heyman

Making Yoga Philosophy Accessible – Part 1: The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali  by Jivana Heyman The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is an ancient text which presents the philosophy of yoga in a succinct and organized manner. This study is referred to as Raja Yoga, the royal path. There is some disagreement about the age of the Yoga Sutra, with current estimates ranging anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 years old. The author, Sri Patanjali is referred to as the father of yoga because he organized the teachings into this format. However, it is believed that the teachings of yoga existed as part of an ancient oral tradition long before this written format appeared. The history of these texts are often debated by historians, but as yoga practitioners, it’s important to try to understand the teachings that they offer and decide if they can be applied in our contemporary lives. Sutra, meaning “thread,” relates to the distilled quality of the text, which is made up of 196 aphorisms, or sayings. These sutras were memorized and chanted by yoga students, and the teacher would add their pearls of wisdom to these basic threads. As students of yoga today, we have an opportunity to connect with an ancient lineage that has been kept alive through the dedication and service of generations of yoga practitioners who have come before us. What’s remarkable about the Yoga Sutra is that it simultaneously offers subtle philosophy and specific guidance on how to practice yoga. The point being, that these teachings are not [...]

MS: Multiple Sclerosis, My Strength, My Story – Yoga by K. Muktidevi Demafeliz

MS: Multiple Sclerosis, My Strength, My Story – Yoga by K. Muktidevi Demafeliz I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in October 1998, when I was 18 years old.  I am 37 now and blessed to say that my current condition is “stable”.  MS is known as the “invisible illness” as symptoms vary from patient to patient.  Intermittent symptoms both visible and invisible include: fatigue, balance, gait, unsteady walking, fine motor control fingers, pain, numbness & tingling feeling, bladder & bowel control, heat sensitivity, memory & cognitive issues, depression, speech & vision impairment, trouble with swallowing, and other neurological symptoms that affect mobility.  I have “Relapsing-Remitting MS.”  MS is when one’s immune system attacks the brain/spine also known as the Central Nervous System (CNS).  These symptoms may arise at unpredictable times and can be severe when an “attack” (exacerbation) triggers.  Unfortunately, there is no known cause or cure for MS, but the medication I am currently taking (Avonex Auto-Injector Pen – Interferon beta-1a) slows down the progression of the disease. This is one of the main reasons why I sought yoga in the first place, because of my MS… but to also center and balance my mind, body, and spirit.  I’ve been practicing yoga for 8 years and been teaching for 4 years now.  Thank goodness at the present moment, I am currently stable, but between the ages of 18-23 years, I was in severely bad shape that had me in a wheelchair, a walker, and the use of cane.  [...]

The Invisibility of the Disability by Sarit Rogers

The Invisibility of the Disability by Sarit Rogers Thick, like cold honey, oh how hard it is to move, to breathe, to rise and dissolve the sleep from my eyes, with bones, stiff and swollen, this immovable framework tangled in bed-sheets. An invisible disability is only invisible to you. To me, to us, it is glaring, screaming at us from within, beating the drum of felt insignificance. The “I can’t do this” becomes a mantra, the “I’m too tired” becomes a way of life, as we wear our loneliness like a shapeless shift. It doesn’t have to be this way. I have experienced sideways glances as I park my car in a handicapped spot – I appear to be able-bodied so why am I parking there, right? I have heard people devalue the experience of those of us suffering from an invisible disability while comparing their physical disabilities to what they can’t see in us. I need to remind us all: Pain and discomfort isn’t a contest. Having to prove you don’t feel well just adds to the problem. Experience can be varied. One common scenario is this: You look fine. Are you sure it’s not in your head?  Have you tried _____?  It can’t be that bad.  I heard _____ is psychosomatic. The internal process is sometimes like this: I’m so tired. Can I die from being this tired?  Surely you can die from being this tired.  Sleep. Yes. Sleep. I am so tired. I feel like I’m going to die.  Wait, what was [...]

The Antidote is Hope by Jivana Heyman       

The Antidote is Hope by Jivana Heyman        Accessible Yoga was born out of my interest in bringing people together who believe in sharing the teachings of yoga with everyone. People who are dedicated to finding peace in their lives and sharing that peace with others regardless of ability or background. In the wake of the election, I found myself starting to lose hope and to feel that these efforts are just a drop in the bucket, and that we’re basically doomed. So, my question is, “How can we find hope in these scary times?” Hope is such an elusive concept. Obama brilliantly used it to bring the country together and help us move toward a fairer and more equitable society. Now we are moving in the other direction – towards a place where prejudice seems to be the norm. I hear lots of yoga teachers saying that these times are when we need to dig deeper in our personal practice to find our center. That is always a good idea. But my question is, “How do we keep hope alive so that we have the energy to speak up?” My fear is that if we lose hope then we become complacent and powerless, and that would be a very dangerous thing. I found hope when my 15-year-old son joined a walk-out with his entire high school to protest the election. It reminded me of my years on the street demonstrating with ACT UP San Francisco, fighting the politics of [...]