January 29, 2015

Yoga for a Quadriplegic; You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!

Happy on Wheels Co-Founders doing yoga (1)

The title of this blog is where I was approximately four years ago when my sister suggested that I try yoga.

I was still struggling somewhat with my trach and strength of breathing, and my pulmonary scores every six weeks at the doctor were not increasing.

I finally gave in and figured that I had nothing to lose, although I really couldn’t imagine how, as a quadriplegic, I could do yoga given that I envisioned all kinds of movements that involved things that I could not do.

Four years later I find myself to be an advocate of the benefits of yoga to so many people. My own experiences got me to this place, something that I never imagined. A true skeptic has become a believer.

Why? First of all I learned much more about yoga from two fabulous instructors. Yoga involves movement, but it is all based in the breath (pranayama) and the breathing exercises moved me to a level that even my pulmonary doctor could not believe.

Second, I can do movements that increase my strength and ability to utilize muscles that do not work. Effective breathing also increases my range of motion because through yoga I have learned to use the breath to expand and enhance my body movement. Using the muscles that I do have helps those other muscles to move and therefore increases my overall strength. This has kept me free from colds and other respiratory infections and has enabled me to cough on my own without help. And, I am strong!

Most importantly, yoga brings me a great sense of peace. Admittedly as a Type A personality, I did not know how to relax. And, when I got upset or stressed out I could not relax and focus. As a practicing attorney with a busy career and life, I found myself to be constantly in a state of physical and mental discomfort.

Yoga, thanks to my fabulous instructors, has taught me how to breathe in a way that restores my energy, calms me down when I am stressed out and provides me with tools that keep me healthy and renewed. In fact, one of the greatest gifts of yoga has been that my husband now also realizes its benefits and we take a class together. We have different disabilities, but yoga is keeping us stronger and healthier.

I am no longer a skeptic, and I am hopeful that others with and without disabilities will realize the benefits of yoga, and be willing to try it. It is truly a gift.


Things Yoga Taught Me Through my Disability.


Author: Sheri Denkensohn-Trott

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Provided by Author

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Sheri Denkensohn-Trott