Walking into the Adaptive Class for the first time your initial impression might be: this is a rowdy crowd. You are likely to hear some good-natured heckling, bits of encouragement, terms of endearment, or even some friendly name-calling being floated around the room. By the time you leave you’ll know that the students of this class are a tight but welcoming group, most who have been practicing together for years, and…they really like their teacher.
Margaret Callahan has been teaching the class since the fall of 2006. She had just retired from a career in occupational therapy when the Washington State Multiple Sclerosis Society approached her about teaching a class for people with MS. When funding was cut the class was moved to Yoga Community and now meets Tuesdays from 10:00-11:15, on a donation basis, and is open to all conditions.
As more people with turn to yoga to ease the symptoms of MS, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, arthritis, and other chronic health issues, regular yoga practice has been recognized to reduce pain, improve balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as increase coordination, and mobility. Yoga can also ease anxiety, depression, and fatigue, often associated with these conditions.
With a background in the Iyengar tradition, which emphasizes alignment, Margaret can suggest adaptations to the poses that take into account the challenges a student brings to the mat. A personal yoga practice can be tailored to individual needs through the use of props, such as blankets, straps, chairs, and blocks. Many of the asanas can be taken from a seated position, and standing poses, such as Trikonasana (Triangle), can be performed with the support of a chair, or the wall. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) can also be modified by placing the hands on the wall, or a chair, rather than the floor. With a further emphasis on restorative poses, the Adaptive Class culminates in a practice that is safe and challenging for all.
After being diagnosed with MS at 18, Christine was getting around primarily with the aid of a walker and a wheelchair and had all but given up on physical therapy. Since she began her yoga practice in the Adaptive Class six years ago, the improvement in her mobility has been dramatic. These days she walks with the aid of a leg brace and uses a walker only for longer distances. Her face lights up when she talks about the benefits of her practice. “It is the best class,” she says, smiling.
Do you have an inspiring yoga story you’d like to share? Contact the studio or mention it to Christy!