My Why for Physically Accessible Yoga
I have my own personal why behind being driven to offer and teach physically accessible yoga, and then there is also the larger, universal WHY, I will leave that for another post.
So first, what do I mean by “physically accessible yoga”? To me this means teaching yoga in a way that accepts and honors various physical abilities, body types and physical challenges that may arise throughout life.
This way of teaching and practicing means your ability to practice yoga is not dictated by your physical abilities – being “good” at yoga or being an “advanced” yoga practitioner to me does not mean you are able to create some particular shape with your body – yoga is after all ultimately about quieting your mind, and connecting with your true nature.
I hope and intend by teaching accessible yoga to enable people to enjoy the benefits of yoga right along with the fluctuations in life, and to not put their yoga practice on hold until their body is in perfect order, but to instead find ways to practice that work with their body as it is in the moment.
My path to accessible yoga.
When I found my connection to yoga, it was truly transformational. I found an acceptance of myself, a sense of contentment, and a joy for life – stopped worrying as much, and started smiling a lot more. I also realize now that I fit perfectly into the mold of mainstream yoga – I was flexible, able-bodied, young and blonde – the picture of yoga on most magazine covers at the time.
I remember going back “home” to visit my family and wanting to share with my Mom this new found way of being, wanting for her to experience what I found so wonderful. She agreed to try a yoga class with me, I was so excited, I really wanted her to experience what I had found to be such a wonderful practice.
Despite her willingness to go check out a class with me, it took her many years to find a class that fit her needs and where she felt comfortable, welcomed and physically able to do the practices – she, like so many, did not fit into the mold of mainstream yoga.
By this time I had been teaching yoga for several years and was becoming more and more aware of how limiting a lot of the mainstream yoga classes and practices are for a large percentage of the population. I had studied enough by then to know it didn’t have to be this way, and I was inspired to begin exploring how to connect more people with the joys of yoga.
It was at that time that I learned about a program called Integrative Yoga Therapy, and set my sites on eventually completing this intensive training. It was also at this time that my Mom had a cancer recurrence and experienced debilitating pain and was extremely limited in mobility.
There was a morning that will always stick in my mind as a turning point for me to move fully towards yoga therapy training and teaching accessible yoga. My Mom, wearing a bright green sweatshirt (just a part of the memory that sticks with me) and exhausted from her walk from the bedroom to the living room, asked me if I would do some yoga with her that day.
The gift that my Mom gave me that day was the drive to move forward and follow my dreams. She died a few short months later, and she continues to be my inspiration and my WHY.
I have since completed over 1000 hours of training, and taught well over a 1000 hours of accessible yoga. My passion for teaching this way continues to grow as I work with students with various physical abilities and challenges all looking for the deeper meaning of yoga.
I am so grateful to my Mom and all of the students who teach me.