Yoga Is For All People–Disabled or Not
The accessibility movement in our society focuses on the opportunity for those with disabilities to have equal access to services and infrastructure. The focus is often limited to those with extreme physical limitations in body and senses. It further focuses on providing only the perceived necessary services without providing tools for all types of people to feel good about themselves.
Imagine if you will the canvas of the world's population, its rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes and health states.
Add in the environmental differences including climate, culture, education and overall experiences and exposures and consider the broad scope of what "accessibility" really needs to address.
According to Wikipedia,
"Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both "direct access" (i.e. unassisted) and "indirect access" meaning compatibility with a person's assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers)."
Whereas "Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions".
Accessibility in the world of yoga would provide a safe, learning and experiencing of yoga regardless of any limitations of body, mind and spirit! Many colors on our canvas look pure, strong and without a shadow but in truth so many of our world's population from the youngest to oldest, the richest to the poorest can benefit from practicing yoga. If we limit our "accessible" studios to accommodate wheelchairs without consideration for the multitude of other populations we are limiting the exposure all of the benefits yoga provides.
Practicing yoga goes beyond perfecting asanas; most individuals and populations can benefit from the physical stretching as well as the mindful stretching through breath and movement. From children to seniors, to the physically impaired and those with sensory deprivation ....all can benefit from yoga practice.
What better mechanism than yoga to bring together various communities building the bridge humanity so desperately needs.
Yoga practice begins with seemingly the simplest of movements...our breath. By connecting first with our own breath we tune into ourselves; our very own life force. When that is firmly in place, in our own space or mat we can send it out and share with the world. Everyone, no matter what demographic, physical or cognitive disabilities, age or gender, breathes. We all breathe, the very movement that keeps us alive, a movement that we often take for granted. With yoga, practice begins with mindful breathing, focusing on your breath, setting ground zero for the entire class or group regardless of where participants are in their life.
The Opportunity For Everyone To Practice Yoga
Providing yoga that is accessible offers the opportunity to meet students where they are at, providing a safe place to practice. No fear of judgment or competition gives each practitioner permission to be the best version of themselves; letting go, moving with their own unique energy and developing tools to use in their daily lives.
It is really an incredible experience to meet your authentic self often for the first time in a long time; if ever. Often, the act of connecting with your own breath provides space, clarity and strength to keep moving forward. Yoga truly provides a useful set of tools to engage and learn how to incorporating them into your practice regardless of your current state of being.
Yoga allows each of practitioner to see who they are through breath, physical practice of various styles all leaving behind samskaras, imprints of the past. Promoting moral virtues including self-discipline, nonviolence, truth, compassion and kindness yoga promotes each individual to live a positive life and continue to grow.
Through a conscious commitment to Yoga, its theory and practice Yoga assists progressive movement for practitioners and inspiration to others.
"The only way out is in." - Sadhguru
We all have a story
In a recent yoga retreat at Blue Osa, I had the opportunity to meet many students that arrived with little or no yoga background. All seniors, with their own unique story. I was intrigued speaking with them on what the 'spark' was that brought them to this amazing place on the sea.
The universal message from this group, some of whom had never met each other was yoga is the perfect path for self-development. With a week-long focus on yoga both on and off the mat, it was a great kick start for their new life practice to begin. A mix of retirees and corporate executives, most were still very much engaged on the road of life. The message shared with me was unanimous; We all have the opportunity to impact ourselves and others by our life's practices.
Wherever you are in the world, in life the principles of yoga create a foundation for all to benefit together and separately. All are entitled to this benefit from the very young to the old, any size, any color, whether physical or mental limitations. Does your yoga studio promote accessibility?
In addition to props like blocks and straps, Blue Osa also has a chair and aerial yoga swings available. Both provide functional tools to allow practitioners to fully embrace the yoga practice.
Accessibility of yoga is truly a win for our society as it promotes an understanding, appreciation and accepting of others and our differences through a better understanding of ourselves.
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About The Author
True yin and yang, Susi is a nature lover and tech geek. Primarily an IT Consultant, whose passion for the rainforest launched her adjunct career as a Wildlife Educator for young
children. Programs follow a 'no apps' needed mission statement helping children
embrace the world of nature sans screen.
Susi recently launched a socially conscious bag company, SolB as the
Designer and Founder. Different styles of bags for all kinds of adventures from
yoga mat carriers, water bottles to small pet carriers.
Almost anything outdoors is on Susi's hobby list;, particularly in the warmer
weather. Yoga, kayaking, and movies are favorites, and of course traveling to
towns near and far, both solo and with family. Even a trip around the corner, down a different road, can be an adventure!
"Grateful for an amazing diverse journey in life thus far. I look forward to continuing to live
life and meet its challenges head on."
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things do then those you did, so cut off the bowlines sail away from safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover. " M. Twain