Adaptive Yoga

My journey into chair yoga began when I was approached by a woman who wanted to practice yoga but could not find a class that worked for her. She had MS. We created a class that worked for her, and it grew. Years later, what I have learned is that there are quite a few people out there who would love to practice yoga, if only there was a suitable class.

One of the defining attributes of yoga is that it is adapted to suit the needs of the situation and the individual. That teaching can be traced back to Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), the Father of Modern Yoga. I believe it's one of the reasons that yoga has become so popular. It's also one of the reasons I love yoga so much.

We don't adapt you to suit yoga; we adapt yoga to suit you.

Lately, I have been seeing classes called "adaptive yoga." They are referring to chair yoga, and I am thrilled that there is more chair yoga in the world. I will even be teaching a class labeled adaptive yoga soon. I have been thinking about it quite a lot for the past few months.

To me, all yoga is adaptive.

Through 2017, I have noticed a shift toward more modifications in my own practice and in the classes I teach. It brings me such joy to see it. When I see someone choose to put a knee down or pick a knee up or do turbo puppy instead of turbo dog, I feel a glow around my heart. There is nothing quite like witnessing as someone chooses to make a change to get out of pain or to feel more pleasure. The thought process can be so simple:

"Huh. That feels funny in my wrist today. I'll do dolphin on the wall instead."

"Half moon? I feel a bit wobbly. I'm going to a wall."

"Whoa. Blood pressure going down. I need to stand still for a sec."

Or even simpler. I see someone exit a pose and wave me over for a mini consult, just because something felt off.

All of these moments are such tremendous wins. This is exactly where I'd like to keep going in 2018.

Would you share your moments with me? I'd love to hear about the moments that you've decided to change something while practicing, and the things that you've heard / seen in class that made it feel ok for you to modify a pose, or to come out of a pose early, or to ask a question.

What has worked for you this year? The more we all know about what is working, the more we have to build on.

Here's to a Beautiful 2018. May we all continue to evolve together.

Happy New Year!

Leigh Ann

Leigh Ann Handel1 Comment