My introduction to yoga came when I was pregnant with my first baby. My midwife asserted that the women who took yoga classes did the best during labor; that was enough to motivate me to sign up for really wonderful hatha prenatal yoga classes with a fabulous instructor. I loved yoga and did it through my twin pregnancy as well as some postpartum yoga. And my midwife was right: The techniques I learned in prenatal yoga were fare more useful for me during labor than those I learned in my Bradley childbirth class.
More recently in my life as I was trying to raise myself up out of my chronic illness, my chiropractor started encouraging me to meditate daily. I was open to the idea, so one day I laid down in shavasana and tried. I couldn’t do it. The only thing I could think was, “I need to do yoga first before I can do this.” So I found the video reviewed here on Netflix streaming (no longer available), and I began. I was quite pleased with what I had found in this video that was at exactly the right level for me and my physical restrictions. My chiropractor was thrilled that I had not only begun meditating but had gone back to yoga as well. He didn’t mean to accomplish quite so much in one try!
The video I discovered was Healing Yoga for Aches and Pains by Lisa Bennet Matkin and Charles Matkin. In addition to currently being available for short term rental on Amazon Instant Video, the cheapest place I found it for purchase on the web is Target. There are also more expensive copies on Amazon and Ebay.
The video is designed for individuals with mobility impairment. It presents some very common yoga asanas (positions) that have been adapted to make them easier for someone who is physically weak or in pain. One does need to be able to stand, sit, and lay on the floor, or you could skip that particular section if you can't get into those positions. A yoga mat is recommended but not required; one also needs a chair to work with, though I’ve used the footboard on my bed for parts of it. Many times the instructors in the video refer to people with arthritis, but I think the video is great for fibromyalgia or Lyme, both of which I have. The video is really low key and isn’t suitable for someone who is in prime physical condition, but for those of us with limitations, it can be perfect.
If you have never done yoga before, I’d recommend starting with a private tutor or classes before using a video; then you can use the video instead of or to supplement classes. I recommend starting with an instructor so that you can learn how the positions are supposed to work so that you don’t hurt yourself. Yoga may look easy, but it’s actually quite strenuous at times, and it is possible to hurt yourself. Case in point: The first time I watched this video, I went into a lunge, something I could easily do when I was healthy. A split second after I started the asana, I had the thought, “My knees can’t handle this,” and I collapsed to the floor as one of my knees gave out. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything my chiropractor couldn’t fix easily, but it illustrates my point. If you’ve got a particular weakness in your body, learning the dangers first is really important to preventing injury.
My only complaint about the video is that the shavasana (or relaxation) at the end is way too short. I’d like to have at least 15-20 minutes of instrumental music available at the end to extend my meditation period. I’ve worked around this by hitting pause on the DVD and hitting play on a music machine (iPod, CD player, etc.) of some sort that I have sitting nearby.
One of the advantages to doing a yoga video at home is the that the hotter I get, the more I can just take off clothes. While there is an all-male naked yoga studio in Austin, that’s not really my thing for many reasons! If I’m stripping, I want to be in the privacy of my own home. The video also allows me to pause it if I need a break or if I need to go to the bathroom. I can start whenever I feel up to it, and I can stop when my body says it’s done. While it doesn’t have the benefit of socialization with others and the added instructor guidance, for someone who is homebound and disabled, this video offers a way to partake in yoga.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance