Do you often start your Yoga classes with the “setting of an intention”? (def. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result). It is a powerful practice! Our thoughts become our actions, and an intention is a literal seed of what will eventually sprout.
On January 1, 2013, my New Year’s Intention was to find ways to bring Yoga into the lives of people in wheelchairs. I had been teaching at Assisted Living Centers for years to people with strokes, Alzheimer’s, brain damage and surgery rehab. Most of whom are 70+. In 2014, a person wheeled into my Chair Yoga class and into my life and forever changed my perspective of Yoga in a Wheelchair!
Tami, a C-6 quadriplegic is a beautiful, educated and multi-talented woman who has been in a wheelchair for over 30 years. (Listen to her story.) We are both “searchers” and fate brought us together because there is work to be done in this world! Tami had a vision of not just creating Yoga classes designed specifically for Wheelchair Yogis, but her intention is to create the culture of inclusion where Wheelchair Yogis can safely embrace and practice Yoga at their local Yoga studio, gym, rec center, etc.
As a Yoga Studio Owner, I was “in!” So, we experimented together. We invited other Wheelchair Yogis to give us their perspective on life in a Wheelchair, we worked with different prop ideas and did partner-assisted poses. With a video camera rolling of course!) We recruited two Yoga Teachers from my Yoga Vista Studio staff who had the heart and passion for Inclusive Yoga.
An Inclusive Yoga Class
Sage, a Visionary Yoga Teacher, already had a Wheelchair Yogi to dedicated to his class. He already had an Inclusive Yoga class! Pinush, the most creative Chair Yoga Teacher I know, went to work on creating accessible Yoga poses using danda (sticks). For months the four of us would meet at the local organic restaurant to share ideas and expand our vision. That is where All Ability Yoga burst from a mere intention to an open seed!
Sharing Yoga at the National Ability Expo in Los Angeles
Tami is an active member of the Wheelchair Community and got us a presentation spot at the National Ability Expo in Los Angeles where we debut our vision for All Ability Yoga! We have Wheelchair Yogis of all ages and abilities join in. Many of whom never felt they could do Yoga in the ways they saw in magazines or on videos. We opened their eyes and bodies to the flow of energy that comes with movement and breath. And for all of us who practice Yoga – we KNOW it is all about the energy! Prana (life force) is increased when we breathe and move. With increased prana comes more peace, ease, joy, acceptance, courage and stamina.
Teacher Training Advocating Inclusive and Adaptive Yoga
Tami is completing her Chair Yoga Teacher Training and we are both working on a Training Module specifically for Inclusive and Adaptive Yoga for Wheelchair Yogis. Gathering information and insights from other Wheelchair Yogis, and combining it with our Chair Yoga for Seniors expertise, our training will help Yoga Teachers and Yoga Studios welcome and embrace this community.