One of the cool things about our community is that there are so many yoga teachers with the intention of helping those around them feel good. Like most writers, I am trying to find fun and meaningful things that I can share with you. I joined a local yogi group on Facebook asked what I should write about next. I was so grateful to receive a lot of wonderful responses!
Through the post, I had the pleasure of getting connected with Gray Dix – RYT 200 Yoga Teacher at Mel O Yoga over in Palm Bay. Gray Shared with me that he taught a Yoga class for the Easter Seals for adults with disabilities, and after speaking back and forth with him for a bit, it was decided that I would come and observe his class! It is a beautiful thing, how life seems to fall into place when you approach it with an open heart and mind.
I made my way over to the little Mel-O studio behind Zumba Studio 321. Gray and I started to chat about our backgrounds, how we came to yoga, and how we both came to teach. We had a bit more in common then I might have originally thought! We both fostered a deep love of the benefits of yoga after going through a divorce. Flash forward a few years for both of us, here we are happily partnered with each our own new life adventure buddies. Very cool stuff! Gray has studied under or read of many of the same teachers as I have in my RYT 200, and It was brilliant to exchange a few stories with his abundant and fun-loving energy. I accompanied Gray for a walk over to the Easter Seals location which was a short walk up the block from Melo to check in, and then we head back to the studio to finish setting up before all of the students arrive.
As we walked, Gray began to tell me how he came to teach this class. Gray teaches a gentle class on Friday’s that accepts food donation as payment, and this is where he met Lisa, who is the coordinator over at the Easter Seal location in Palm Bay. After attending a few of his classes, she asked if the studio would like to work with the organization. It was a match made in heaven. He began to tell me a little about each of his students, their personalities as he had worked with them, and also some of the benefits some of the students had experienced on and off of the mat. With a few months of practice, Many of the students have seen measurable improvements. Some students found improvement in communication, articulating words more often when they were generally non-verbal in the past. Many see improvements in terms of mobility. After practicing for some time, some of the students found improvements standing, dressing and also while using the bathroom, and more daily activities! So cool.
Shortly after the students chose their seats and we began class. Gray lovingly remembers where each student likes to sit and what their favorite props and mats are. We flowed through postures with laughs, time for breath, and some lovely asanas to open up the back, legs, arms, chest, and neck!
This was a welcome reminder to me to be sure to connect with and accommodate my students. He taught with such genuine care, offering comforting touches to the room and sending positivity and affirmation to all students before relaxation. Focusing on lesson plans, music, location, and lighting are all important, but it is so key to remember why we are here! Yoga teachers out there, learn your student’s names the best you can, ask them about previous injury or sensitivities in the body, and modify wherever you can to make sequences accessible for your students.
There is nothing better than a genuine connection with your students. The relationship and community that yoga brings, is one of my favorite parts of being a teacher.
It was a beautiful thing to see the smiles and sighs of relaxation that Gray helped his students to find. Students with disabilities can really benefit from yoga! Here are a few of the postures that we went through, and some of the modification that was offered if you have someone with special needs at home that might like to stretch and breath with you!
- Seated Twist
- Forward Fold
- Standing Cresent moon
- “Fabulous” Pose
- Self Hugs
- Knee to Chest
- Supine twist
- Cats & Cows (Moo’s and Mew’s)
- and.. my very favorite – Dying Bug – grab on to your Raid! (Fun transition to Dead Bug Pose!)
Thank you Gray! for this very important class that you provide to our community.
Namaste Friends! Feel free to comment below on thoughts or pass this article along if you would like for others to learn more about the cool things going on to give support to our community through yoga.
4 thoughts on “Yoga for Adults with Disabilities”
Very interesting but a little long worth the read
Lovely article. I love Gray! This is exactly what we (yoga teachers) strive to do, give back to our communities.
Gray is awesome and always willing to help those in need in his yoga classes. It’s a wonderful labor of love that he does with Easter Seals and the progress he makes with each of the students.