Inclusive Yoga with Amy

Amy talks about her explorations in teaching Inclusive Yoga at Stopgap…

Recently I had the opportunity to teach a Yoga workshop in Berlin and the programmer specified that it had to be suitable for able bodied students with experience. At first I thought it a missed opportunity as it would have been a useful platform to experiment with and try out some of the Inclusive yoga I have been developing with Stopgap. However, it gave me the incentive to really consider what is currently interesting me about yoga and what elements I teach are important and applicable to all bodies. 

For a few months there has not been time to explore adaptations and translations in class and I considered this to be a bit of a pause in terms of the development of the Inclusive yoga. However, on reflection and after devising the workshop for Berlin I realised that we have been growing individually and as a group through regular practice and the application of a ‘better breath’. My classes draw upon elements of shadow yoga, Integral yoga and group movement and every class explores a variety of breathing techniques, developing the bridge between the body and the mind. As a group we work at unifying our breath and body rhythms and my aim is to leave the dancers feeling strong, positive and restored.
Even if someone is extremely restricted physically, they can breath. Breathing is almost synonymous with life because, in one way or another, the respiratory system supports all vital functions. It is the connection between the conscious and the unconscious and is often considered by experts to be the key ingredient in mental and physical health. Using different breathing techniques you can allay anxiety, avert panic, promote a sense of calm and aid concentration; it is a ‘tool’ you carry with you wherever you go.
Holding excess tension in the body (whether it be for physical, mental or emotional reasons) impacts upon your breathing and therefore your ability to function. Working slowly to develop a deep, controlled and smooth breath will encourage your skeletal muscles to let go of their rigidity, the chest muscles will then begin to shed accumulated tension and breathing will become unrestricted. The body is then more ready to explore the asanas (postures in yoga). So through the exploration of breath you are developing a practice that is inclusive.
In terms of pinning down specific Inclusive yoga exercises and translations, there has been some development but as I expected it is a gradual process. With Laura’s help I have created a document that talks through Surya Namaskaaram (sun salutation). When I last posted a blog that discussed Inclusive yoga we had just developed a translation and now we have defined the asanas (postures) that Laura as a wheel chair user does. I have now written up our discoveries, guiding the reader through each of the twelve postures; discussing the how, the essence of each asana, common corrections and possible alternatives. Ideally I would create a similar document for all Integral yoga postures and the yoga sequences that I have been creating for the company. It is a long-term project and due to nature of Stopgap and all the work we do, it must be a gradual process.

If you’re interested in exploring Stopgap’s Inclusive Yoga sessions please get in contact via email: [email protected] or phone: 01252 745443.

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