Inclusive Yoga: A Practice for Individuals with a Spinal Cord Injury


Let’s begin our practice. Find a comfortable seated position in
your chair. If you need help stabilizing, place a block between your knees. You
can also wrap a strap around your legs drawing them together for extra support.
Relax your shoulders down and back. Place your hands on your knees, palms
facing up. Gently close your eyes and soften your brow. Let’s begin to tune into our breath. Focus
on circulating air in and out through your nose. Gently close your lips. With your
next inhale, allow the air to fill your belly, expand your rib cage and lift your chest.
Then, slowly exhale, as one unit, exhale all the way out. Repeat this pattern,
inhaling first in your belly, up through your diaphragm and then all the way to
the top of your lungs in your chest cavity. Then slowly exhale all that stale air out
preparing to repeat your three-part breath once again. Three-part breathing helps us
tune into our bodies and tune out any distractions. As you continue to breathe in this way,
notice any tension you may be holding in your arms, shoulders, or neck and
release it with your next exhale. Commit to being present for the next 60 minutes
or so of your practice. You do not have to worry about what will take place after
class or what happened before. All you’re responsible for is your breath and your
movement and your body. Stay present. Stay in the movements. Be present in the
stillness. Focus on your breath. Now, turn your hands down and place
them back on the top of your thighs. With your next inhale, slowly draw your
shoulders up to your ears. Then relax, releasing your shoulder with your exhale.
Repeat. We’re now using our centering breath. Inhaling as one unit in
and exhaling as one unit out Keeping a steady syncopation
in and out through our noses. Pay particular attention to the
quality of your breaths. What is their texture? Are they smooth or ragged? Are
your inhalations longer or shorter than your exhalations? Let your breath be your
guide through each movement. Slowly draw your left ear to your left
shoulder, inhale, return to center then drop your right ear to your right shoulder
feeling opening along the left side of your neck. Flow from side to side linking your
breath with your movement. Roll your head down toward your chest,
tucking your chin in, and hold. Then circle your head to the right shoulder and
then back to the center. Now, with your next inhale, lift your arms
up and over your head, hooking your thumbs and allowing your chest to
expand and your heart to open. Relax your shoulders as your arms continue to
reach skyward. If you need help with your balance, feel free to place one hand down
on your wheel or on your knee as you lift the other arm up to the sky. Up and out of your core with your inhale and
then lowering slowly down with your exhale. Bring your hands once again to rest on
your thighs. Lower your chin to your chest then inhale and lift your chin and
turn your gaze toward the sky. Exhale, lower and repeat. Feel a gentle stretch
along the back of your neck. Come to a comfortable seated position on
the ground on your mat. Cross your leg at your ankles. Feel free to
place a block or blanket behind you if you need help with stabilization. Inhale your
arms up overhead bringing your palms together. Then exhale as you lower your arms back
down by your sides. Inhale and lift. Exhale lower. Inhale lift. And exhale lower. Turn your gaze over your right shoulder. Inhale and lift both arms back up and to the center. Twist, bringing your right hand
forward this time and your left hand behind you and gaze over your left shoulder.
Try to pull your navel into your spine as you twist. Imagining that your bellybutton
is being pulled in by an imaginary string. Repeat These spinal twists awake and nourish
the backbone. Illustrating the age-old truth of yoga that overall well-being is
enhanced by a healthy spine. Inhale bringing your arms back up to the
sky then exhale and walk your hands on the ground as far as you can out in front
of you. Release your head, relaxing your neck. Slowly walk your hands to the right side,
release your head again. Walk your hands back to the center and
all the way out in front And then slowly over to the left side feeling a stretch
along your right side. Now, come back to the center and walk
your hands as far as you can away from your body. Feel a lengthening in your
spine and a stretch along the back of your neck. Drop your head between your
arms. Tune in to your breath. Make sure your inhales and exhales are remaining
through your nose. Place your palms down beside your hips,
extend your legs long out in front of you. If you are unable to straighten your legs
or are struggling with balance, feel free to keep your legs crossed at the ankles or
place a block behind your back. Inhale, reaching your arms all the way up
toward the sky. Exhale, and lower and releasing your arms as well as your upper
boy. Reach for your toes. Inhale. lift your upper body as well as your arms and
imagine you’re reaching for an imaginary ball in the air. Taking hold of the ball,
slowly lower down bringing the ball to rest on top of your legs. Feel free to lift and lower one arm at a
time if this is easier for your to remain balanced in your seated posture. Continue to inhale and lift and then
exhale and lower. Linking your breaths with your movements. Try to keep your
shoulders soft while your arms are active. Keep your navel turned into your spine,
tightening your core as much as possible. Return to the center. Press your palms down into the earth
beside your hips. With your next inhalation, lift your right arm up and over.
Feel the opening along your left side. Sweep your arm down and around. Now
repeat with your left arm. Continue to move with your breath
floating from side to side. Return to the center. Roll one shoulder
back and then the other, releasing any tension you may have. This stretch is
especially beneficial for people who use wheelchairs as it opens and releases your
shoulders that may be overworked from pushing. You can get the rest of your
arms in on the action by bending at the elbow, You can also turn your head and
gaze over one shoulder and then turn and gaze over the other. Reverse the direction of your shoulder
rolls bringing one arm forward and then the other arm forward. Repeat for several
times. Slowly roll on to your belly bringing your
forearms out in front of you. On your next inhalation, lift your heart and
turn your gaze skyward. Then slowly exhale and release your head and chest back to the
ground. Place your palms down with your fingers
spread nice and wide. Your elbows should be pointing up to the sky. You can
turn your face down to the mat to protect your neck. As you inhale, draw your
elbows together and as you exhale release. Inhale drawing your elbows and shoulder
blades together and exhale release. Inhale together. And exhale release. Slowly bring your forehead off the mat,
press into your palms and peel your chest slightly off the ground. Exhale and lower. Inhale come up a bit
higher, exhale and lower. Inhale lift as high as you can.
Make sure your shoulders are down and away from your ears. Exhale down. Inhale
come up again. Now gaze over your right shoulder Then gaze over your left shoulder.
Come back again to center. Then exhale and lower all the way down. Now we’re going to complete a few
push-ups addding some strengthening work to our practice. Inhale as you lift
and exhale as you lower. Slowly release your hips back and down
all the way to your heels. Stretch your arms out in front of you and keep your
palms pressed into the mat. You can let your forehead rest on the mat or on a
block. This is called child’s pose. It is a resting posture that can be used at
anytime throughout your practice. If you ever need a break you can come here.
Slowly take three restorative breaths in and out through your nose. Inhale, and slide your palms back toward
your shoulders keeping them rooted into your mat with your fingers spread nice
and wide. Now we’ll begin round two of this arm
and chest strengthening series. As you inhale, draw your elbows together,
as you exhale release. Inhale squeeze Inhale squeeze together, exhale release.
Inhale. Exhale. Slowly bring your forehead and chest off
the mat, press your palms into the mat and peel your heart slightly of the mat.
Exhale all the way down. Inhale, lifting your heart a bit higher this time, then
exhale and lower all the way down. This time inhale lift as high as you can without
pain. Make sure your shoulders are down and away from your ears. Exhale down. Inhale come
up again. Now gaze over your left shoulder. Slowly come back to the center
and then turn your gaze over the right shoulder. Return to the center. Exhale and
lower all the way down. Let’s power through a few more push-ups.
Inhale as you lift. And exhale as you lower. Inhale lift. Exhale lower. Continue linking
your breath with your movement. Slowly release your hips back towards
your heels in your child’s pose. And take three, long restorative breathes. Let’s inhale for our last round of arm and
back work. Starting again on our bellies with our elbows up and palms facing
down by our shoulders, we’ll draw our shoulder blades and elbows together with
our inhale and release with our exhale. Good. Inhale and squeeze. Exhale, relax.
Inhale, together. Exhale. Relax. Slowly bring your forehead and chest off
the mat, pressing your palms into the ground and peeling your heart slightly of the mat. Exhale all the way down and then inhale,
lifting your heart a bit higher this time. Exhale and lower all the way down. This time inhale lift as high as you can.
Make sure your shoulders are down and away from your ears. This is our
upward facing dog. Now gaze over your left shoulder. Slowly
come back to the center and then turn your gaze to your right shoulder. Come back
again to center. Exhale and lower all the way down. And now for our last set of pushups!
Inhale and lift and exhale and lower. Inhale as you push up. Exhale lower.
Keeping the breath in the nose. Continuing to link your breath with
your movement. Return to all fours, and turn your palms
down into mat, line your wrists up beneath your shoulders and your fingers
spread nice and wide. Bring your knees to about hips-width apart. Slowly extend your right arm in front of
you, bringing your right bicep to your right ear. Hold, drawing your navel into
your spine so that your abs are strong and active. Bring your right arm back down and
slowly begin to extend your left arm, with your left palm turned inward. Moving with
your breath, float from side to side extending one arm and then the other. If you need to relax into child’s pose for
a few breaths, feel free to do so. Once you have completed tripod, return to child’s
pose and take three breaths. Slowly come all the way down to your
belly extending your arms out in front of you and extending your legs all the way
behind you. Bring your face down toward the mat. As you inhale, lift both arms off the
ground reaching forwards then exhale and lower down. Try to keep your neck
relaxed and your gaze down. If you can only lift one arm at a time for
balance that’s just fine. Float from side to side, linking your breath with
your movement. If you’re lifting both arms at the same
time, try to peel your heart your chest up off the ground higher and higher with
each inhalation. With your next inhale, reach back with
your right hand and take hold of your right foot, ankle or leg. Draw your heel
toward your right glute and hold the posture as you continue to take slow,
steady breaths. Use the assistance of a strap if needed. Draw your left heel toward your glute and
hold the posture. You can turn your head to one side if that is more
comfortable for you. Continue to hold your left leg while
reaching back for your right leg with your right hand. Draw both heels toward your
glutes and hold. Inhale and peel your heart off the mat
coming into bow pose. Hold. Then, exhale, lower and release the posture.
Again, feel free to use the assistance of a strap or towel if needed. Try the pose
again, inhaling and lifting your heart, drawing your shoulders down and back.
Your heels towards your glutes your chest lifted. Release your legs allowing them to
extend behind you, now. Press your palms into the mat with your
wrists lined up directly beneath your shoulders. Inhale and lift up to all fours creating a
slight backbend, in your lower back, as your prepare to go into hip-opening
pigeon pose. Bring your right knee forward until it
touches your right wrist, keeping your right thigh parallel to the sides of your
mat. Slowly inch your right shin and foot toward the midline of your body until your
foot is directly below your left hip. Now straighten your left leg or back leg toward
the back of your mat. Walk your hands forward to the front of
the mat. You can remain here with arms extended in front of you and palms
pressed into the ground or you can slowly begin lower down to your forearms.
And you can clasp your hands in front of you bringing them into a fist. If you are able
to, lower your forehead down to your hands and release any tension you’re holding
in the back of your neck. If you would like to go even deeper in this
posture, you can walk your hands all the way out so that your arms are fully
extended on the mat and your forehead is touching the ground. Feel free to use a
block for your forehead if needed. You may perform a variation of pigeon
pose on your back. Slowly bend your right knee and draw your right shin in
towards your chest. Gently draw your right foot toward you with your left hand
and you press your knee away from you with your right hand. Hold for ten breaths. With each exhale surrender more and more to
the posture allowing your hips to settle and release any tightness. Make sure you don’t roll
over to the right side but instead keep your hips squared to the ground. Try to remain in this posture for 10
long steady breaths. Hip openers may be challenging, but they
can also be incredibly satisfying, both physically and emotionally. Pigeon pose
is perfect for tight hips because it stretches the hip rotators and the hip
flexors which are the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs and pelvis. Slowly come back to your forearms,
pressing your palms into the mat and walking your hands back toward your
body so that your wrist are underneath shoulders. Slowly extend your right leg behind
you and release the posture. Press into the mat with your palms. Slowly begin to inch your left shin and foot
toward the midline of your body until your body until your foot is directly below your hip.
Now, straighten your back leg toward the back of the mat. Walk your hands forward to the front of
the mat. You can remain here with arms extended in front of you and palms
pressed into the mat or you can slowly lower down to your forearms with your
hands clasped in a fist in front of you. If you are able to, lower your forehead
down to your hands and release any tension you’re holding in the back of your
neck. With each exhale surrender more and more to the posture allowing your hips
to settle and release tightness you are holding. Keep your hips centered toward the
mat and begin taking your deep breaths. If you would like to go even deeper in this
pose, you can walk your hands all the way out so that your arms are fully
extended on the mat and your forehead is touching the ground. You can even begin
to bring your chest down to the mat. Then, release your right leg and
draw your bent left knee in toward your chest. Draw your left foot
toward you with your right hand as you press your knee away from you with your
left hand. Hold for 10 breaths. Release your leg and slowly
roll onto your back. Place a strap or towel on the bottom of
your right foot and draw your leg up toward to sky. Keep you left leg relaxed
and extended toward the end of your mat. Extend your left arm out to the side with
you palm facing down. This arm will provide stability and balance. Slowly, with your next exhale, release
your right leg all the way down toward the ground, opening your hip. To complete
this spinal twist, turn your gaze over to your left hand. Now, take five
slow deep breaths. Inhale and draw you leg back to the
center. Changing hand positions, hold on to the strap with your left hand and
extend your arm out to the right. Slowly close your hip, crossing your right leg
over your left. Turn your gaze to your right hand and hold for five breaths. Inhale, drawing your leg
back to the center. Slowly draw your right knee into
your chest and squeeze gently. Repeat this sequence on the left side. Spinal twists provide many benefits
including relief of back pain and pressure. The lower back bears a considerable
amount of weight when you are standing or sitting throughout the day. This puts
pressure on the lower vertebrae, restricting circulation to the area. Yoga
twists can reverse the daily damage to your lower back by restoring circulation,
increasing flexibility and correcting posture. These positions rejuvenate the
spine and improve range of motion Spinal twists also cleanse and detoxify
the body. Performing yoga twists massages inner muscles and organs,
which wrings out toxins while bringing in a rush of fresh oxygen and nutrients. This
flushes out impurities from inner tissues and helps organs perform their functions
properly. Draw both knees into your chest and
wrap your arms around them coming into a ball. Gently rock from side to side
releasing any residual tension in your lower back. Relax you neck as you rock. Return to the center, keeping your knees
drawn into your chest. “T” your arms out to the sides with palms facing down. Slowly
drop both knees to the right side and turn your gaze to your left hand creating
another spinal twist. Inhale, return to the center then drop both
knees to the left side and gaze at your right hand. Breathe. Draw both knees back into your chest
and come to a tiny ball, squeezing your legs together and in. Draw your forehead
toward your knees. Take a huge inhale and hold your breath. Hold. Hold. Now, open
your mouth and exhale as you release your arms behind you and your legs out in front of
you. Stretch all four limbs, becoming as long and lean as possible. Then draw both arms back by your sides
and allow your palms to turn up to the sky. Let your feet flop open to either side
and close your eyes as we prepare for our Savasana our final resting posture. Savasana is one of the most important
poses of your yoga practice. It boosts your mood and relieves stress and
anxiety, but it also has just as many physical benefits. This posture reduces
headache and diminishes fatigue. It can also lower blood pressure and cure
insomnia. Think of savasana as your reward for a
focused, strong practice. Begin by lengthening the back of your neck
by slightly moving your chin towards your chest. Once you’re comfortable, take a
slow deep inhale. As you exhale, allow your body to relax and sink into the floor.
Maintain stillness as you relax and quiet your mind. Visualize your whole body
resting and rejuvenating. Feel your eyes relax in their sockets. Soften your tongue,
lips, jaw and forehead. Enjoy 3 to 5 moments of complete silence and
stillness. This ends our adult yoga class for individuals
with spinal cord injuries. We hope you’ll continue your practice from
home.

15 Comments

  1. I do yoga , for almost 10 years , Plus I study it , Now I am a yoga teacher , I do have a spinal cord injury it is a compressed FX, Of L1 plus couple year later I compress L3 and L4 , , For me Yoga is SO IMPORTANT for me and staying Strong , And My Bones Healthy over all , Best Wishes To all in this Video , For Doing Yoga ! Good Luck , Stay Strong ! No Mas Day !!!!

  2. Love this video. I JUST really started to try doing this today and I already feel great. Looking forward to my workout this afternoon now.

  3. I'm a level T-7 sci, I really have difficulty with sitting upright without a lot of stabilization being me. I wonder, what levels the people doing this in this video are?
    Maybe I'm just not trained good, since I was injured in 1981

  4. LOVE what you are doing, thank you, but honestly I'd prefer to see 2 separate videos, one for para injuries, one for quad, as a C-5-6 injury a lot of this is unattainable for me to do independently, especially the ground work, which is the majority. Also I feel it is important education for public viewers to know this is only possible for paraplegic injuries, triceps make such a difference!:)

  5. Thanks for this great video. I can not all, but what I can is for my body perfect. I feeling my body better. This help many SCI people worlwide, the get not physiotherapy.

  6. This was so calming just to watch, the instructor has such a soothing voice and the music in the background is so tranquil.

  7. Fabulous video, iv bn looking for a decent yoga tutorial for SCI for years n iv just found it. Thank you for uploading â˜ș Best wishes, Claire U.K. x

  8. My 13 year old daughter has eds. We're trying to get her a new mobility device called an Ogo! Please help by donating and/or sharing her crowdfunding on all your social medias http://gofundme.com/Makaylas-new-wheelchair Watch her videos where she test drives an Ogo and more Links below https://youtu.be/_oxQ9RmrDhQDaydreams of a disabled child https://youtu.be/Y7qAq4k6a2AA wish – a fairy godmother for a disabled child https://youtu.be/OFUgkxOgYiwMakayla talks about her selfhttps://youtu.be/XcmI7rVk_-wEds explained by me

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