I have been teaching yoga for eight years, and in that time, I have been through quite a lot, including two operations on my spine. I have been wheelchair bound many times whilst awaiting diagnosis or pending surgeries, so my ability to move was restricted to literally only moving the top half of my body.
Obviously, I had to think outside the box – my studio was already successful, but how do I teach them effectively?
It took every ounce of knowledge that I had, recognising the pain that I was in, finding the respectful boundaries (the pain and limitations of wheelchair) of myself, and forged ahead. I had two choices at this point, I could teach, or give up. Pain is real, and if you can find the ‘sweet spot’ between life and having total respect for your body, anything is possible.
Before every class I found a volunteer ‘movement demonstrator’ willing to be at the front of the room, beside me. Yes, I could verbally talk a class through movement, but it was still nice for everyone to be able to see the demonstration of moves if they needed to.
As we are a true yoga community full of love and compassion, there was always someone willing to help. Two of my regular demonstrators actually loved helping so much, and found more benefits through yoga for themselves, they decided to become yoga teachers. I couldn’t be prouder of them.
One of the challenges I faced, was knowing my left from my right, remembering body parts and trying to verbally co-ordinate a class! It was full of fun, laughter and lots of ‘what in the world’ was said – I will never forget the feeling of community.
When you attend a yoga class, you need to feel totally comfortable with the people in the room. We have conversation, laughter, and everyone tells me their aches and pains, that way I can formulate a class in my mind before we begin.
I was teaching three classes a day, each class had new students with different aches and pains, so a new class flow was created by me, on the spot, so everyone received the benefits of yoga.
My classes are never about me – it is always about everyone else in the room. Every single person who walks into my studio, comes in for a reason, they either need to stretch, relax, meditate or perhaps they need the community more than anything else. Whatever it is, I make sure they receive it.
Just because I was restricted in movement, did not mean that I was giving up on myself or anyone else. I was determined to help myself and as many people as I could at the same time.
Now I am wheelchair free and my lower back is made of titanium, but I’m walking, smiling and teaching. I am grateful. All of this has made me a richer person inside and out for being able to do it.
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