Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Interview with Katja Sandschneider on Making Yoga Accessible to People with Disabilities

Accessible Yoga Blog: Where do you teach? Who is the population?

Katja: I give weekly classes for people with disabilities in Berlin, Germany. Our classes are inclusive; I teach people living with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, students recovering from strokes, individuals with amputations, and individuals with paralysis.

I also teach able-bodied students in the social work program at a private university in Berlin. Many of these students don’t have any prior yoga experience. I teach basic hatha yoga techniques and also adaptations based on their ability.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Can you share an experience that stands out?

Katja: I had a student with severe muscular atrophy; she could only move her head and lower arms. She also had a sharp mind and was excited to try yoga. During class her assistant and I helped move her arms and legs carefully into yoga poses, and I encouraged her to breathe deeply and calmly. After savasana, she smiled and said it had been a long time since she felt so present and in control of her body. The next day she wrote me and said that she felt physically and emotionally empowered. She also nearly bumped her head on the car roof as she got in because her upper body was so much more upright. Moments like this remind me of the power of our yoga classes.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Why do you teach this group or this population? What made you choose this specific group?

Katja: As soon as I decided to become a yoga teacher I knew I’d teach people with disabilities. I have right-side hemiparesis below my hip and becoming an AY teacher helped me make peace with my own story and physical challenges. I stopped struggling with my future as yoga taught me the purpose of my disability.

At first I felt awkward teaching able-bodied students, but eventually I realized that I don’t need to do ‘perfect poses’ in order to be a good teacher.

Accessible Yoga Blog: What are you excited to do next with your students?

Katja: I’m so excited about the Accessible Yoga Conference coming to Rheinsberg, Germany (close to Berlin) in October 2018. It will be great for my students to try new yoga experiences, meet other AY teachers, and dive into yoga for a whole weekend with amazing presenters from the United States and Europe.

Katja Sandschneider has been an Accessible Yoga teacher since 2014. Shortly after birth she experienced internal bleeding in her spinal cord which resulted in paralysis of the lower right half of her body. After her first yoga class she experienced a reduction in back pain and headaches as well as improved relaxation. As she learned to adapt a typical yoga class to her own needs she realized that Accessible Yoga wasn’t offered in Germany. She took the Accessible Yoga Teacher Training and has been teaching AY classes in Berlin ever since.

This post was edited by Gita Brown.

° FOLLOW Accessible Yoga on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

° REGISTER here for our next conference.

° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don’t have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.

No comments:

Post a Comment