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Yoga and Disabilities
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Yoga and Disabilities

Yoga has been a way of exercise and relaxation in many cultures for a while now. It is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India. The modern practices of yoga as an exercise and physical activity involve balance, breathing, relaxation, and meditation. But did you know that yoga can help those with disabilities? 

Yoga can be especially good for people with disabilities like down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The use of yoga can loosen up the muscles and relax you. Cerebral palsy is a disability that is characterized by motor impairment and can present with global physical and mental dysfunction. It is estimated that nearly 8,000 babies and infants, and 1,200 to 1,500 preschool-age children are diagnosed every year in the U.S. 

Cerebral palsy is considered a static neurological condition that results from a brain injury that occurs before cerebral development is even complete. "The goal of management of cerebral palsy is not to cure or to achieve normalcy but to increase functionality, improve capabilities, and sustain health in terms of locomotion, cognitive development, social interaction, and independence," says Karon W. Krigger, M.D., M.ED., of University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Physical therapy is a way to treat cerebral palsy and it can often include yoga. Youtuber Adriene, at Yoga with Adriene, made a yoga video specifically for people in wheelchairs.

Good yoga training for those who are disabled includes strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and flexibility exercises. Each should help with range of motion, reduction of pain and stiffness, improved balance, and endurance. 

When starting out, you want to start slow and gradually increase your activity level. Stop exercising if you're in pain and make sure you warm up beforehand and drink plenty of water. Don't focus on the issues you have but do make sure you're not overdoing it. HelpGuide.com maps out the perfect way to exercise if disabled. 

I enjoy listening to relaxing music while I do yoga. I have always had back problems and a couple of injuries from high school that didn't heal well. Yoga has helped SO MUCH! I feel more relaxed, my back doesn't bother me as much, and my knee has not caused me pain since I started. 

I hope this helped you find a way of exercise! Happy yoga-ing! 

Image credit: http://blog.ncpad.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/adaptiveyoga4.jpg

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  1. Arnie Slater
    Arnie Slater
    Great article. I have CP, I’m 51. I try to stay very active physically. It helps. Recently I completed a marathon run (virtually) The Grand Canyon Run with a group called VRC. Virtual Run Club. It allows you to participate and complete these challenges on your own time, at your own pace. I love it. Yoga has been suggested to me before by my orthopedist. I may just have to give it a try. My wife uses a chair due to MS as well. I will share this info with her. Thank you
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    1. Emily Wheelock
      Emily Wheelock
      Wow! Congratulations! That is so awesome!!! I hope this can helps your wife too!
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  2. Rich Mayfield
    Thanks for the article. As someone who uses a wheelchair 90% of the time, I've found Aerial Yoga to be an enormous help in keeping me limber and active. I am 72 years old and for the past two years, I have exercised with an aerial yoga therapist who has shaped my practice to include traditional poses as well as pain management and avoidance.
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