As a quad, I had the fortunate experience to be in a class taught by adapted yoga pioneer, Matthew Sanford, (finally!) last fall. Sanford is a 40-something paraplegic from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who began his journey into the world of yoga after moving to California post-injury.
It was in Cali where he began his experimentations with yoga, adapting poses, etc, that led him to becoming the yoga celebrity he is today, not to mention a published author (his memoirs is called “Waking”), and a crusader in showing healthcare professionals how important a strong mind-body connection is for people with disabilities. And despite all of these impressive credits (including being featured on MSNBC and on Dr. Oz’s show), Matthew is still a kind, unpretentious man (with a lovable hippie streak to boot).
I was on the waiting list for his class for over 2 years. When they added a second class last fall I was beyond ecstatic. And the class was everything I expected and more. We learned back, arm, head, and neck stretches. We learned breathing exercises. And perhaps the coolest of it all, we learned how to “feel” the paralyzed parts of our bodies again. The yoga didn’t cure us, no. But what it did do was create a stronger connection between our brains and wherever in our bodies our disability was.
And for me that meant I listened to the hum, the buzz in my lower body. A certain vibration I’ve been ignoring for years. But with the concentration and breathing methods that Matthew pretty much invented, I can now sense my body better than I have in years. And this is why Matthew so strongly believes in teaching professionals why adapted yoga is paramount. Think of how many thousands – perhaps millions – of peoples’ quality of life can be improved through learning the techniques taught by Matthew Sanford.
To learn more about Matthew, his studio Mind Body Solutions, and to *even* learn some at-home yoga techniques you can do at home (and in your chair!), check-out www.matthewsanford.com.
Have you tried adaptive yoga or read Matthew Sanford’s book, Waking? Do you believe in the mind-body connection?