Wheelchair Yoga: Getting Started
Yoga has exploded as a means of health and wellness in the United States over the course of the last decade. Offering benefits for mind, body, and more it is really no surprise that it has seen the success it has. Despite the origin of Indian religious practice, the exercise of yoga does not require a spiritual element. It may surprise some to hear, but it does not require functioning legs as well!
Wheelchair yoga is yoga just like you'd find at your local gym, but it focuses on poses that work and stretch the body without even leaving the wheelchair. It offers the exact same benefits: stress release, greater lung capacity, improved flexibility, more muscle strength, and it helps the body prepare to relax or sleep. These poses can be done from the safety of your home as well, but having someone at home as well is recommended as a safety precaution, and always consult your physician prior to beginning a new exercise regime.
The principles of yoga do not change, so the core of each pose remains universal: sensations. It isn't about stretching to the point of discomfort but stretching enough to create a positive result. Not sure how to tell if this is happening? Instructors can help you with this. Most yoga instructors offer one-on-one sessions that can help you get started. Some instructors even specialize in yoga for wheelchair users!
Yoga is a great form of exercise for wheelchair users because it isn't about lifting more weight or breaking personal distance records; it focuses on awareness. Awareness not of pain, but of your whole body. What sort of stress do you have? What does my body need? How do my movements affect my health? By practicing yoga with these mindsets, it becomes much more than doing and holding various stretches and poses, but about finding a connection between your daily life and better health.
Consider what benefits yoga could offer you and consult with your physician, it could be the next big thing for your health.