This is an excerpt from Adaptive Yoga by Ingrid Yang & Kyle Fahey.
Adaptive yoga tailors the instruction and practice of yoga to an individual’s needs in a safe, comfortable, practical manner. The point is that yoga is accessible to everyone’s body at every moment. Yoga asks you to start where you are, and that is different for everybody. Yoga requires you to be mindful of your body and the present moment; this mindfulness allows you to ascertain that starting point with compassion and kindness toward yourself. For example, if Locust feels impossible right now, you can adapt the pose to accommodate your body’s needs and abilities. Props are encouraged, and using your breath is mandatory. Be kind to yourself and be exactly where you are. The goal is not to assume the perfect magazine cover pose; it is to do what you can and what feels right in the moment.
The beauty of exercise is that anyone, regardless of their functionality, can benefit from it. Everyone from hospital patients to professional athletes can use exercise to recover from injuries, improve general health, decrease pain, and so much more. Rehabilitation is the facilitation of exercise to optimally increase strength, flexibility, and endurance with the ultimate goal of improving function and quality of life. Rehabilitation is necessary both acutely after injury or illness and throughout life. We can always improve our musculoskeletal capabilities and function. After a life-altering injury or illness, functional improvement does not happen with prolonged rest and languishing away into muscular atrophy. Research and clinical experience have demonstrated that functional outcomes are vastly better with earlier and more frequent movement. Exercise improves and maintains function, lessens pain, and enhances quality of life for PWD. The goal of adaptive yoga is not only to modify yoga poses but to use yoga as a tool to improve mobility, function, and quality of life. The best way to build confidence and trust in your body after disability is to be mindful of and actively observe progress. In this vein, it is crucial to adapt and modify poses to your specific capabilities. Imagine being asked to perform a task or movement that you know your body can never do; the instinct is to give up. But when you are given the tools and knowledge to achieve your goals, despite the challenges, your motivation increases, and with it, your confidence.