The first ever Accessible Yoga Conference will take place later this year in Santa Barbara, California.
The idea of September’s inaugural conference is to provide an opportunity for the yoga community to get together and connect with those who seek to open up access to the yoga teachings for those with disabilities. The two-day program will be held at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center and will include a speech from Matthew Sanford (see image). Matthew is a yoga instructor who is paralysed from the chest down due to a road accident when he was just 13 years old. The workshops are designed to appeal to everyone who is interested in yoga; instructors, advanced practitioners and beginners.
How does yoga work for wheelchair users?
Wheelchair yoga has the same basic focus as other yoga practices. The aim is to teach wheelchair-users to utilise breath awareness in order to bring unity to the emotional, physical and mental body, and to simultaneously bring peace and balance into the individual’s life.
The yoga exercises taught to wheelchair-users are specially designed to improve a person’s flexibility and suppleness in order to enhance their movement. This is clearly extremely beneficial to those with restricted movement and physical limitations. In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, the practice brings inner harmony and peace which helps to relieve mental stress, anxiety and depression.
All the movements and postures taught to wheelchair-users are suitably modified so that everyone can participate at any level. The breathing exercises taught in yoga serve to increase the individual’s awareness of both their body and themselves. The techniques taught also promote wellbeing and healing. Yoga is particularly useful for those affected by multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, back and joint pain. People who have chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety and depression have all benefited from practicing yoga.
Yoga is a truly inclusive teaching which everyone can benefit from, no matter their ability. Why not give it a try?
Image source: spinalpedia.com