adaptive yoga

Jaque, an adaptive yoga assistant, helps a participant settle into a pose.

Over a decade ago, John’s long body is stretched out on the blue yoga mat unrolled flat across my living room floor. “I can’t figure out what he’s doing with his right leg,” John says as he hears me enter the room. I know next to nothing about yoga or the finely sculpted Asian man speaking to John through the magic of the DVD player.

John is blind. He attempts to let this man’s smooth, calm voice guide him through a series of complex, acrobatic-like yoga poses. This works until John gets lost on this particular pose. I place my hand on his right calf, then describe how he should move his leg until it mirrors the leg of the man on the TV screen.

As John finishes the first series of increasingly crazy poses, I study the DVD case. Rodney Yee stares back at me. He sits cross-legged atop a large rock with an undisclosed tropical paradise as his backdrop. I flip over the case and read about his yoga journey and philosophy. I learn that he has attained some sort of yoga guru/master status.

I know that my cerebral palsy would never allow my uncoordinated body to fold into any of his hyper flexible, super balance poses from the DVD. Still, I am intrigued by the mind-body-spirit connection detailed on the cover. Plus, I have always been fascinated by bodies in motion. I love dancing in my wheelchair and watching gymnastics during the Summer Olympics.

Fast forward six months: John and I decide to end our relationship. I have a serious case of the post break-up blues, and desperately need a reason to drag my sad self out of the house. I read a short write-up about a community yoga class for beginners in the local parks and recreation guide. Although I know that the majority of exercise instructors are used to working with mostly able bodies,