Adaptive Yoga: No More Wheelchair Floating

jambiThe wheelchair can be one of the most helpful things in the world, getting you from Point A to Point B if you can’t walk, but it can also act as a barrier between you and the rest of the world and the energy most people feel while walking.

This energy is some invigorating, buzzing stuff, and the sad part is that most wheelchair-users don’t even realize this energy is a “thing;” and they go through their lives not realizing they could have an deeper connection to the world and feel better because of it. But if only they knew….

I was as unaware of this energy as much as other wheelchair-users up until a few years ago when I began taking adaptive yoga. My whole world turned upside down when my paraplegic yoga teacher, renowned Matthew Sanford from Mind Body Solutions, asked me to do the craziest thing ever: “Push down through your feet, even if you can’t.”

I looked at him like he was crazy, not understanding why he would ask me such a thing knowing he knows full well I’m completely paralyzed from the chest down. But he wanted to challenge me and the way I thought about my boundaries; not the ones imposed on me by medical doctors. I was frustrated at first by his question, and then my entirely reality shifted.

For the first time I actually began to feel something in my feet when I tried to push them into my footrests. It wasn’t like before; full tactile sensation, but a subtlety was there. Matt believes the notion of “energy” flows through every one of us and the world we live in, and he will preach how when you’re in a wheelchair it can be severely stymied. Tapping into this energy is huge for us.

The wheelchair, if you let it, acts as a wall between your body and the good energies flowing through the ground and up through your feet — a sensation nondisabled people get all the time. When your feet are on the ground, this is the ultimate feeling of feeling grounded, and it’s something wheelchair-users are forced to learn to live without.

I lived this way for such a long time, not realizing my body was starving for this connection, but now that I’ve discovered how important this is I feel it’s my duty to share it with all of you. I’m not a “New Ager,” but being someone with a spinal cord injury, I was starving for a new way to look at the world.

You see, our spinal cords may be broken, but we can still connect to the world physically and we absolutely need to do so on a regular basis. None of us are doing this often enough — except Matthew of course — and even if you can’t get out of your wheelchair, you can still get the grounded feeling (and erase the “floating in the world” feeling most wheelchair-users experience get in their wheelchairs).

To do this, just take off your shoes and socks if you can, and if they can reach, let your feet touch the ground on the sides of your chair. The energy of the earth will buzz through your body and you will feel the difference. Otherwise, transfer onto the mat to get closer to the ground if possible. It takes a couple of people to help me down, but it’s more than worth it. I feel more alive down there. Such a surging feeling…

If you’re reading this and use a wheelchair, then no matter what, just find a way to plug back into the world. Don’t sit atop your wheelchair for the rest of your days floating like Jambi the genie head in Pee Wee’s Playhouse; that’s no way to live. Get grounded, and feel more alive because of it.

Have you ever felt the need to get grounded?

– Learn more about my yoga teacher: Matthew Sanford

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