I often get asked if I would help someone learn how to teach Yoga to people with disabilities. I usually dodge the question because I believe it is not a teachable skill. You either have it in your heart or you don’t. It is not that these teachers are bad teachers without compassion, it is more likely they are looking at the practice from a physically, or asana, point of view.
By focusing on asana, it is likely that the class will be inaccessible to many of the participants and therefore not inclusive.
Instead, it is imperative to meet them where they are at physically, emotionally, and developmentally.
Forget about postures and perfecting the correct cues or adjustments to assist them.
How does one attempt this?
- Let go of the idea of postures and shift your intention to offering an experience. Instead, give them an opportunity to feel their body in ways they may have not ever felt. Empower them to love their body and in turn, they will begin to love the experience.
- Allow them to be who they are. As a teacher it is a must to look past the disability. See beyond the wheelchairs, the helmets, the twisted limbs, the drool, and the limited communication. See them and give them the space to be who they are.
- Share your light. Love them and offer them a glimpse of hope and light. Teach them they illuminate the world. Teach them that they are perfect and whole as they are.
- Allow them to teach you. Get out of your ego-head and listen. Allow them to share their purpose with you. Be willing to see what they are here to teach you.
- Affirm and give thanks. Begin and close each class with affirmations and with gratitude. Give them tools to see their life as worthy and valuable. Practice gratitude with them.