Exploring Wheelchair Yoga

Archimedes has been a yoga instructor for 14 years, and recently has been working to modify his classes and techniques for participants who use wheelchairs. Based in San Francisco, Archimedes teaches everything from how to meditate, to how to exercise the limbs and how to release stress on an emotional and mental level.

With just these few techniques, Archimedes hopes to help wheelchair users, that attend his class, modify the stretches and poses to work for them.

Exploring wheelchair yoga can be rewarding. Yoga can be modified to fit you, whether you’re standing or sitting. Wheelchair yoga is fairly new for people with physical challenges. It may be somewhat intimidating. That’s why Archimedes uses modification in his classes to help breakdown the fear and intimidation factor.

The key to wheelchair yoga is for each individual to express the given pose to the best of their abilities, while at the same time respecting their own limitations. This is true for any individual practicing yoga. It often takes time and lots of practice to be able to perform the various poses.

When a person stays in one position for a long period of time, like sitting in a wheelchair, their body may become stiff. Although wheelchair yoga focuses on the upper half of the body, Archimedes says it still is rewarding and pleasurable for the participants.

Modification is an essential when it comes to wheelchair yoga. It is important that during adaptive yoga classes, each individual remembers to maintain a steady breathing pattern, and that they continue to breathe throughout all the poses and stretches. It is also important for each individual to not stretch to the point that they are experiencing pain.

The good news is that regardless of whether or not you are a wheelchair user, you can join any yoga class anywhere, and modify it so that it fits you personally.

The best way to experience freedom is to get out, live life and don’t be afraid to try something. There is something special about taking what some may see as an inconvenience, and turning it into an advantage, and wheelchair yoga does just that.

The class pictured took place at the Bay Area Abilities Expo and was led by Kim Lan, an above-the-knee amputee of twelve years and yoga practitioner for the last five years. Plagued with thoughts of all the things she couldn’t do due to her disability, she found liberation in yoga, finally discovering her wealth of peace and abilities.

To present this class, Kim Lan partnered with two expert co-teachers: Archimedes, co-founder of Integral Living Center and Hanuman Yoga Center, and Sheena, a NASM and NESTA certified trainer with ten years of fitness expertise in posture re-education, injury prevention/rehabilitation, chronic pain, and Barre Fitness. Archimedes can be found teaching integral living yoga classes in studios around the Bay Area and also has a weekly radio talk show at Radio Valencia in San Francisco. Sheena runs her practice in the Silicon Valley and is also currently pursuing her Masters in Health and Exercise Science at the University of the Pacific.

Disclaimer: Before attending any yoga or exercise class, consult with your physician to determine what is appropriate for your physical and health needs. This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to serve as medical advice. 


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