I lost my vision in the early 1970’s due to a disease I incurred while serving in the Air Force. I slowly adjusted to life as a blind man and was determined to remain strong and healthy. As a way to accomplish this goal, I began my involvement with yoga when a friend came to my house each week to teach me some of the postures. This occurred in the mid-80s. I liked yoga but didn’t feel ready to join a class in town.
About ten years later I renewed my interest in yoga when my partner became a yoga teacher. I regularly attended her classes and then decided to venture out to a few yoga weekend workshops where I became quite upset by the lack of awareness from the workshop leaders. They were nice people but had no idea of how to support and include a blind person into their workshop plans. I remember expressing my frustration for a whole week after I got home, but then came up with a creative idea to put together a yoga package that would be totally accessible for blind people. That’s when my partner and I developed “Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired,” It’s a 5 CD package that has helped and continues to aid many blind folks to receive a solid understanding of yoga. The package teaches yoga postures and attitudes, but also has some assertiveness training mixed in to help low vision and blind people become more empowered in all aspects of life. My goal was to have blind folks learn the basics of yoga, and then, if they wanted, to help them develop the skills to find a yoga class they could enjoy on a weekly basis in their local community.
In addition, there are many health benefits to gain from practicing yoga on a regular basis. Your body becomes stronger as well as more flexible from the stretching and strengthening that takes place when practicing each posture. You learn to quiet your mind and to breathe in a way that helps you to stay even tempered. Yoga means the union of body, mind and spirit and this integration actually happens for those who practice yoga consistently.
I believe the key for blind yoga students is to first get a basic understanding of yoga fundamentals and then do some research to find a local class with a yoga teacher who will be happy to support your class participation in a thoughtful way. It’s great to look forward to a good yoga class each week when you have confidence that the teacher has some awareness regarding blindness needs.
After searching in vain on YouTube over the last couple of years for a video that has strong and flexible blind folks doing yoga, I took the leap and had a video done of me in a simple six-minute yoga flow. Everywhere I looked before I found sighted yoga teachers guiding the blind in yoga, but nowhere could I find a blind person who was inspiring for other visually impaired people. My intention is to encourage as many visually impaired folks as possible to get more involved in yoga because I truly believe it will help them enjoy their lives more.
I am going to be sixty-five years old in August and the doctors are always amazed that I’m in such great shape physically. . I truly thank yoga for helping me sustain a healthy body and mind. Blessings and NAMASTE!