Yoga is touted as the practice for all people and, really, who couldn’t benefit from learning to become more mindful, paying attention to their breathing and just generally coming in to the space of the ever elusive – now.
But what happens when you are a person with a disability and in a wheelchair (like me), or you are older, overweight, or see yourself as just not that fit or flexible? Under those conditions downward facing dogg’in it seems less and less likely. So, is yoga really still for everyone? Well, I am living breathing proof that, yes, in fact yoga is for everyone.
I always wanted to practice yoga. It was just one those things like a movie that always seems to show up on television. Yoga just kept showing up in my consciousness and for a long time I brushed it off with a “no way” or a “not possible” or a “no time.”
Eventually though, like all calls that must be heeded, the whisper nearly became a scream and yoga could be ignored no more. So, I mustered up my courage, cast my doubts aside and…wrote an e-mail. Yep, that’s where my journey started with an e-mail.
I had no clue where to start so I cast a wide net and wrote to four teachers in the community. The e-mail was clear about my physical abilities and also what I wanted to get out of a practice. I hit send and then…crickets. Nothing—until my inbox lit up with one message from one teacher.
My call was heard and answered. Someone was willing to take a chance on an unknown quantity, a girl with a kooky idea, a dream yet to be realized and willing to take a chance.
This teacher was meeting me where I was and even though I felt happy, enthusiastic and more hopeful about this experience than ever before it still felt as though I was nowhere—still caught in that no man’s land of self-doubt; that wasteland of a place that can hold us back from the bigness of our lives and the grandeur of our souls.
There I was close to realizing a long-held desire but still feeling the push and pull of the old should I—shouldn’t I. I felt embarrassed, silly, and, even a little unworthy, to be attempting to practice yoga.
Who did I think I was? In my head there were all these pictures of tall, willow-y, fully able goddess types who twist their toned limbs into pretzels and then there was me.
Hardly willowy, bound mostly to a wheelchair and unable to bend, well, much. It seemed like time to stop before even getting started but the something inside me that is vast and magnificent—the thing in all of us—that is bigger than any illusion or self-doubt told me to push on, to go forward and to take one breath at a time while stretching and bending in new, terrifying, joyous and thrilling ways.
Christine Quaglia is 31 years old and lives in Southwestern Ontario. She is a former English major who will always count reading and writing among her first loves. Christine is (relatively) new to Yoga and has enjoyed developing her practice even in the face of a physical disability. It is great to be sharing this piece of my story with the Elephant Journal audience.
Editor: Hayley Samuelson.