Twice a year I have the opportunity to help out with adaptive yoga teacher training weekends at my yoga studio Mind Body Solutions, a great non-profit. My yoga studio is one of the few yoga studios in the country that teaches adaptive yoga and they were the first to teach it in fact. My studio was founded by this amazing guy: Matt Sanford
As you can see, Matt uses a wheelchair. He was paralyzed in a car accident when he was 13 years old and discovered yoga in his 20’s while living in California. He decided to found a studio in the early 90’s to teach to others what he figured out himself, and Mind Body Solutions has been slowly growing since.
I had the opportunity to get into his class through a local rehabilitation facility and have been enjoying adaptive yoga for the last three years. And understatement of the year – it’s made a huge difference in my life, especially in my day-to-day quality of life and being able to feel comfortable while having to sit several hours in my wheelchair (usually 15+ hours. say hellooo to major back pain).
People from all over the globe have been wanting to try the yoga being taught at this studio. I’ve received emails from folks with disabilities asking, Where can I go to learn this?? Sadly, not many places. Adaptive yoga should be available everywhere, not just here in Minnesota (and the good news is that it’s slowly spreading, with great studios popping up in Denver, Philly and others).
This is why Mind Body Solutions started hosting adaptive yoga teacher training weekends to teach the basics of how to teach yoga to someone with a disability, to able-bodied yoga teachers from all around the world.
I gotta say, being able to help out with the training weekends is a huge honor. As an “experienced” student, I get to come in and tell the class my story, hear their stories (and boy do they all have such powerful reasons for being there, all coming from such interesting places to boot) and the whole weekend is a hugely rewarding exchange. Here’s me on the mat with some of the students teaching reference points:
And of course getting down to business – teaching how the heck you do yoga in a wheelchair, or on the mat, when you’re paralyzed or have any other kind of mobility/sensation-limiting condition – is the most important thing. Here’s a picture of some of the teachers putting themselves in the position of a wheelchair-using student, learning the importance of grounding (one of the core lessons of adaptive yoga):
My studio, in order to spread the amazing thing that is adaptive yoga as far and wide as possible, to veterans, to young kids, to everyone, also just completed a video called Beyond Disability. It shows how to do all of these amaaazing yoga poses that you can do from your wheelchair and they were able to make this video with the help of a grant from The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Myself, as well as two other students, are the featured ‘students’ in the video. You can buy it on Amazon here
And many thanks to Elizabeth Ashton Brewer for taking these fabbie pics. She’s a student at the University of Arizona who I met over the weekend who teaches acro-yoga and is an all-around a pretty rockin’ gal. She’s pictured here (far right) with Matt, and two other lovely ladies from the teacher training weekend:
Spread the yoga love! <3
Learn more about one of the coolest yoga studios ever: Mind Body Solutions