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San Francisco: Yoga for Differently-Abled Bodies

Ramona_Headstand.JPGThere's a widespread perception in our culture that yoga is for those who are physically fit. I often have friends or family members say to me. "I don't do yoga because I am not flexible" or "maybe I'll try it when I lose weight/heal from my injury/stop feeling depressed." And those are all able-bodied people. People with physical disabilities or serious chronic health conditions often think that doing yoga is about as likely for them as snagging a spot on the US Olympic gymnastics team.

We all know that yoga can be modified for "stiff" people or newbies, but JoAnn Lyons has proven that it can be modified for anyone. JoAnn teaches these two classes weekly at Piedmont Yoga Studio:

+ Yoga for People with Disabilities (Thursdays, 3-4:30 pm)
+ Yoga for People with Special Needs (Saturday, 3-4:30 pm)

The first class is for people with all kinds of physical disabilities, from quadriplegia to cerebral palsy. The second class is for people who have lesser disabilities, like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis, MS, or scleroderma. You can also come to the Special Needs class if you are nursing a bad injury, and don't want to give up your practice. Both classes are sliding scale, funded in part by the California Yoga Teachers Association's Yoga Dana Foundation.
Class wMolly.JPG
Recently, I went to assist in one of JoAnn's class and I saw people doing the most incredible things! With a team of staff and volunteer assistants—and a range of props that include a headstander (see student Ramona up top), a yoga sling, cushion wedges, beanbags, and bolsters—JoAnn swiftly directs students into a wide variety of postures, modifying each one for each student's separate needs.

Know someone who thinks they'll never do yoga because of a physical limitation? Suffering from an injury yourself? I highly encourage you to check out the classes. And if you are interested in being an assistant in one of these classes, contact JoAnn to find out about her special teacher training workshop in May.

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I wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading this blog and I will be sad to see it go. The information that I receive from Karen is extremely interesting, creative and beneficial. I hope that Yoga Journal will be able to launch this blog again soon.



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