Yoga is an ancient spiritual, mental & physical practice that originated in India. The impressive results of Yoga know no boundaries, and after centuries of use, it is now practiced all around the globe. Yoga has proven to be one of the most effective practices for peace of mind, as well as for physical efficiency. Be it decremented in strength or lung capacity, increased level of stress or distracted focus, poor sense of well-being or unrest sleep, Yoga covers it all.
In Indian traditions, Yoga is considered something more than just physical movement; it is considered to be an important tool of meditation. It is even believed that Yoga provides us with enough psychological peace & energy to take us to the higher states of consciousness.
Countless studies suggest that Yoga has helped with serious diseases and disorders like asthma, schizophrenia, autism, cancer and many heart diseases. It also helps with keeping the digestive system smooth, leading to overall optimal health. Reports also claim that Yoga enhances the lifestyle of an individual on an overall basis, and as mentioned earlier, prevents and reverses many diseases.
And because of differing experiments on Yoga, it has now revolutionized with age and is practiced various forms like Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Swara Yoga, and many others. However, the most popular one in the west is referred to as Hatha Yoga.
Individuals who are disabled and in a wheelchair can also practice Yoga and gain the above-mentioned health benefits.
The ultimate focus of wheelchair yoga is for an individual to try and stretch their body to the maximum ability, with respect to their own physical limitations. It’s true that Yoga needs quite a lot of practice and a set of various poses to stretch each and every muscle in our body. When we sit in just one position most of the time, our body starts to become stiff and stagnant. So, if you are someone who wants to get in shape and healthy, wheelchair yoga can help.
Wheelchair Yoga focuses mainly on the upper part of the body to reduce stiffness. Special needs experts suggest that Yoga activities make the greatest positive impact on disabled individuals. Yoga is often a meditative and a slow process, which smoothens blood circulation in the body. Mentally, it leads to increases levels of motivation, focus, and attention. For some, Yoga is psychologically empowering because it requires them to test their abilities, work towards achievable goals, and increase their level of functioning.
There are many Yoga instructors and Yoga schools that service people with disabilities. In schools, individuals are treated according to their abilities; some are trained to the optimum level of their physical ability, while others simply need to stay seated in their wheelchair for the entire period of time and are trained psychologically first, in order to attain physiological functions. This is practiced when physical mobility and energy levels are extremely limited. They are trained to focus on breathing, relaxation practicing, and imagery while having intellectual talks about how they perceive the views and beauties of this world.
But there are many practices and exercises which can be done at home, without going anywhere. The most useful and easy ones are:
1. Side Stretches:
This practice focuses on the back and wing muscles of our bodies.
· Begin by lifting one hand up, and tilting your body in the opposite direction of that hand in a strafing pose.
· Repeat this step with the other hand up and tilting in the opposite direction.
· Take deep breaths while doing this.
2. Cat Pose:
It helps with the back.
· Place your hands on your thighs.
· Tilt your upper body forward while you exhale. Tilt till your chest touches your thighs.
· Take deep breaths and release in each rep.
It helps in releasing tension from the back.
· Hold the handles of your wheelchair, and twist yourself towards the right.
· Take a breath and then twist to left.
· Take deep breaths.
4. Hip Stretch:
This pose is for hips.
· Lift your one leg and cross it over the other as you inhale.
· Then, exhale and lean forward.
· Hold the position and take 5 to 7 deep breaths.
· Repeat the same with the other leg.
5. Leg Stretch:
This exercise focuses on the legs.
· Lift your one leg, bend it at the knee and touch your knee to your chest.
· Hold the position and take 5 to 7 breaths.
· Repeat the same with the other leg.
It’s advisable to consult your doctor before performing any of these exercises and poses or trying any other new practice.
Wheelchair yoga is a good opportunity for people with disabilities to focus on their health. Yoga can enrich us with mental and physical fitness.