When you hear the word “yoga” what image comes to mind?
|Variations of Uttanasana (Forward Fold)|
There is a saying “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” Inherent in this quote is the fact that yoga is more than poses. It also involves breathing techniques, meditation, and guidelines to help practitioners live in healthy relationship with the world around them and the inner self. I’ll expand on this in a later post. But, I wanted to mention it here to make you aware that yoga’s accessibility extends even to those with very limited movement. Take, for example, Matthew Sanford, paralyzed from the chest down at age 13 when his spinal cord was severed in a car crash. He began doing adaptive yoga at age 25 and later became a yoga teacher. For more of his inspiring story, check out his website http://www.matthewsanford.com/.
Finding the yoga class or teacher that’s right for you will require some effort on your part. Most studios have descriptions of their classes on their website. Some even include the qualifications of their teachers. Take time to select a class that sounds like it will be appropriate. Look for words like beginner, basic, gentle or slow. If you have health problems such as back problems or a chronic illness, looks for class titles that include: therapeutic, adaptive, or specifically mention the back. If you are still in doubt, call the studio and ask questions. Get to the studio 10 to 15 minutes early so that you can complete any necessary paperwork and have time to introduce yourself to the instructor. Let them know you are new to yoga and tell them about any health issues that will impact your practice (balance problems, back issues, the fact that your right knee hurts when you bend it, etc..).
Lastly, remember that only you know what a pose feels like in your body. Never stay in a pose that causes pain. Never let a teacher force you into a position that doesn’t “feel right.” If you aren’t sure how to know if a pose is right for you, check out Sensations to Watch https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4ABTuaWRaD7R3dGMHQyTE5naTA/edit?pli=1