Our journey with Yoga
A few years back we were given the opportunity to try out some yoga. As a group of people with a range of disabilities we weren’t really sure that it would be the right thing for us but we were willing to give it a go. When you think of yoga, the first thing you think of is headstands, standing on one leg and other poses which require a strong core, great balance and stability. You can probably imagine why we were a little apprehensive!
After being introduced to Katie, a yoga instructor who has a lot of experience in ‘sit down yoga’ we realised that everybody can do yoga, no matter what physical abilities you have. Katie worked with us all one to one and found alternative ways for each of us to participate in each exercise.
Our sessions focused on Sivananda practice which is a form of Hatha yoga which focuses on health and well-being of the participant. Alongside this we also practised yogic breathing such as ‘the breath of fire’ & alternate nose breathing which are focussed on relaxation & stress relief.
After only a few sessions we started to notice positive differences in our bodies. Some of us said that our muscles were less tight, some regained strength and abilities that they had lost and others said that they felt less tired.
As well as physical changes, we also noticed that we felt better mentally. Relaxation and breathing techniques are a big part of yoga and learning how to relax has helped members with stress and anxiety in all parts of life. Even the smallest of positive changes can make a big difference when you have a disability, whether it be physically or mentally they both impact on each other. If you feel better physically (less pain, less fatigue etc) the chances are you will feel better mentally too.
We also recently had the opportunity to work with a second teacher, Cath. Cath’s style was much more focussed on visualisation, energy and poses. It was great to experience and learn about different styles of yoga, this meant that we could all find something that suited us. Whilst some preferred the visualisation and passing energy throughout the body, others preferred the more energetic circuits and work outs that Katie used.
In just over 2 years, we’ve gone from thinking we couldn’t do it or feeling embarrassed about it to now where lots of us are now using aspects of it in our everyday lives. We’d like to thank both Katie & Cath for making yoga accessible to us and sharing their very different styles with us, we’ve enjoyed learning what our bodies are capable of and we continue to feel the benefits.