Years ago, I think I was like many people who resisted walking into a yoga studio. I felt like I wouldn't be able to hang. I have the tightest hamstrings on earth (I still think I do), I'm not naturally flexible, and when I would try to keep up with yoga DVD's at home, I would practically break my neck trying to watch the instructor because I didn't "know the poses". I think that's the general perception...you have to be an advanced yogi to even walk into a studio-it's SO not true! But I get it.
Fast forward, and I'm the teacher.
Yesterday in my vinyasa class, a student was in my class for the first time because of a last-minute schedule change. She had attempted a yoga class before, and said "never again" after not being able to handle the intensity (I didn't find all this out until after class). As class began, I saw her attempting a down dog pose which looked almost painful, and that she was straining in a way that wasn't serving her. Instead of inviting her to find a comfortable position to "wait out" the uncomfortable pose (which I would've done in the past-and is still always good to do to re-connect with your breath), I was able to fall back on my recent Accessible Yoga training in NYC and turn her around to the wall without skipping a beat.
Like the photo here of my daughter using a chair, she placed her hands on the wall and I quickly explained that all we did was change her orientation. Same pose, same experience. She was no longer straining in an uncomfortable way-she was actively participating in the downward dog pose, while removing the stress and strain. I could feel and hear her settling into her breath...and she became a yogi. The rest of the practice I cued the class (with her at the wall) doing the same practice. Occasionally I would goto the wall next to her and model a pose while I was teaching and she adjusted and continued in practice. Suddenly she loved moving through a vinyasa. She had the biggest smile on her face, and asked if she could come back next week-maybe yoga was for her after all.
The Accessible Yoga Teacher Training I completed recently really expanded my teaching practice, showing me ways to include everyone, regardless of their need. Not only how to use props more effectively, but how to give someone the yoga experience that is right for them-not just what I was picturing in my mind. When there is a full class of people waiting for the next cue, it can be daunting to think fast on your feet when you reach a roadblock-but with the right training, you'll learn when the door is closed, you just need to open the next one...or find a window. Whether the yogi is in a bed, a wheelchair, missing a limb, a cognitive or physical disability, whatever the case may be...yoga is for everyone. There is a way to include every single person, any age, any ability. If you're breathing, you have all the prerequisites you need for class!
If you're able to find your way into my teacher Jivana's Accessible Yoga trainings-get there( The next one is in San Fransisco, CA ). I was so drawn to the training and wasn't sure I could swing it with family commitments-but I was able to make it and grabbed a hotel room the night before. I'm so glad I followed my gut that was screaming get there! to me...it has changed me as an instructor. I will forever be grateful for this practice and that I will always be a student of it! Questions? Ask away, I'm happy to answer anything at all. The trainings are happening all over the world, so there is a good chance there will be one near you!
All my best,