What is Adaptive Yoga?
Adaptive Yoga is for everyone – regardless of ability or disability, and regardless of the degree of disconnect between mind and body. Mind-body connection drips away slowly as we age, but sometimes an illness accelerates the drip. And sometimes the disconnect is traumatic – sudden and violent.
Adaptive Yoga seeks to enhance mind-body awareness, regardless of the state of disconnect – regardless of physical limitations, abilities or disabilities. It is Yoga adapted to your needs, using techniques developed by internationally-renowned Iyengar Yoga teacher Matthew Sanford, himself paralyzed from the chest down since the age of 13. This may include adapting the physical environment, for example, by providing thicker, supportive mats for those who carry a lot of pain in their bodies or for wheelchair users at risk of developing pressure sores. It will likely include many yoga props, i.e. belts, bolsters, blankets, pillows, etc., just as in most open classes taught today. Personal assistants or family members may attend and help. The class will include variations to help individualize and adapt yoga poses. Groups are small.
Adaptive Yoga is a physical Hatha Yoga experience. We do not teach the perfect pose. We teach the experience of the pose. All you need to do is show up. And be willing to connect with your body in new ways. To stay open and be present. In other words, it’s a normal yoga class!
The Benefits of Adaptive Yoga
- enhances mind-body awareness
- improves balance and strength
- physical relaxation, reduces spasticity
- gives a sense of expansion
- toning/tuning of the nervous system
- improves breath/voice capacity
- strengthens the body
- counters posture habits which accumulate from extended periods of time in a chair
- helps iron out asymmetries in the body
- helps in dealing with stress and emotions
- gives a sense of community, inclusiveness, belonging
Before your Adaptive Yoga class
- Speak with your Adaptive Yoga teacher before the first class so he or she can get an idea of your needs. Take this opportunity to ask questions and discuss your concerns.
- You should not be hungry when you go to yoga. Neither should you be full. Have just a very light meal or snack before the class or make sure you have a couple of hours for digestion after a heavier meal.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes so you find it easy to move. If changing clothing takes a lot of time and energy, consider wearing your training clothes to yoga.
- Yoga is a quiet, focussed activity. Ringing/vibrating telephones disturb this atmosphere, so let significant others know that your phone will be off for the class.
- You will be invited to practice Adaptive Yoga on a yoga mat or, if you are sitting in a wheelchair, to practice on a thicker supportive mat/mattress, but only if you feel comfortable doing so. Personal assistants or family members are welcome to attend class to help with the transfer or other tasks.
- In many yoga classes, the teacher and/or teaching assistants will be moving throughout the room helping students through hands-on assisting. This may be even more common in an Adaptive Yoga class where students may need additional help. Again, personal assistants or family members are welcome to help fulfil this function.