Close your eyes (not while reading my article, of course!), imagine you are in a quiet room with soft music streaming, you are focused on your breathing (instead of your endless to-do list) and an instructor is calmly directing you on where to place your hands and feet. You are in a yoga class and I promise you will feel better after. (I don’t make promises I can’t keep!)
Practicing yoga has many benefits and can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. For me, yoga helps to reduce anxiety and stress and even helps me sleep better. Yoga is beneficial for everyone because of the physical postures and focus on breathing. Each pose can be modified or adapted to meet the needs of the student so regardless of ability level yoga is for everyone. Yoga postures can be performed while seated in a chair or wheelchair and may be performed with assistance from the instructor as needed. In a yoga class, students usually watch an instructor to learn how to properly complete each position. For students with low vision or who are blind an instructor can easily incorporate more spoken instructions and feedback on what to change to accurately complete each yoga pose.
Yoga is often a slow, deliberate and meditative process, so it helps you to slow down and increases attention and focus. For individuals on the autism spectrum and with ADHD or anxiety this can be especially helpful with concentration and following directions. Practicing yoga is empowering because it is so individualized and inclusive as the differing abilities and limits of each student are accepted and welcomed. Yoga starts wherever you are. Every yoga pose can be adapted to meet your current level of functioning. With regular practice you will meet your goals, whether it’s to have the breathing and stamina needed to be able to lift your head or to stand on your head.
Yoga is offered in many gyms, health clubs and recreation centers. There are adapted yoga classes where yoga is practiced by individuals with disabilities as well as inclusive classes where there are students with and without a disability. No two people (or yogis) are the same! Yoga is one of the most complete and inclusive forms of exercise and one of the best things you can do for your body, mind and spirit.
The official start of summer is almost here, and while I’m sure it will be a hot one, it also brings more opportunities for outdoor activities amongst families, friends and neighbors. Remember running around the playground when you were a child? Remember the games and competitions you would make up with friends at the park? Remember the feeling of achieving your personal best during a workout? (click here to read more)
Summer is a time of inclusion and exploration. Accommodations are not only for school or work; they are also available for camps, concerts, parks and recreation! Whether you are boating, scuba diving, camping, skydiving, rv-ing or waterskiing, we want you to send pictures of you doing your favorite summertime activity with an accommodation. We will post all of the pictures that you send us in the July and August editions of our newsletter.
“Why?” is the most common question asked when I said that I was going to change my practice into a non-profit disability rights advocacy center. My reasons are each and every person with a disability that I have represented over the past eighteen years. With every single person, the issue was not about money, but about the dignity of being a human being, and having the same ability to enjoy life as any other person. Even when I was not successful, I was always able to give my clients the power and dignity to fight for their equality and humanity.
This is a new era where people with disabilities eschew labels and demand their rights. Those who are Deaf or who have vision impairments demand equal access to information, those with depression and anxiety demand emotional support animals, those with disabilities demand the right to have their own families
and make their own decisions regarding independent living, and those with learning disabilities demand testing and course accommodations. Disability Independence Group or DIG is an invitation for persons with disabilities to declare their independence from antiquated notions of a second class existence.
Disability Independence Group will be a center where people with disabilities can learn how to enforce their rights and a training center for future lawyers to learn how to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities. It will advocate for a definition of diversity and integration that includes persons with disabilities. DIG will be a hub for the growing internationalization of disability
rights in Central and South America. We have a big job and big dreams.