Learning to Listen to My Body: An Adaptive Yoga Journey

Yoga Changed My Life

In simple terms, it took a life-altering car accident at age 19, a spinal cord injury, and more than 30 years to unearth a passion for this practice. Since then, learning adaptive yoga and becoming a certified yoga teacher has transformed my life in unexpected ways.

Before the car accident, I felt invincible. I was a dancer, swimmer, lifeguard, cheerleader, pom pom girl, choreographer, and athlete. I knew who I was and what I wanted to do after high school: go to New York to become a choreographer/dancer on Broadway. 

After the car accident, I awoke to a devastating blow. I had a crushed spinal cord with partial paralysis, and I was told I would never walk again. In 24 hours, my life was forever changed. My Broadway dreams were shattered. The physical and emotional trauma of the accident numbed my senses and led to disconnection from my body. 

It took a long time for me to regain a sense of self and create a new life. With intense physical therapy, I went from being in a wheelchair, to using forearm crutches and a cane, to foot orthotics to relearn to walk.  

My Growth

Gradually I found the courage to own my body, in both present and past forms. Adaptive Yoga was one catalyst.  I took my first yoga class several decades later. Trying yoga was one of the best decisions of my life. 

Once I experienced Adaptive Yoga and began adapting poses to fit my body, I wanted to share it with everyone, especially those with physical challenges. 

I knew there must be others like me, with physical challenges, who could benefit from learning Adaptive Yoga. My search led  to Accessible Yoga and the First Accessible Yoga Conference (AYC) in Santa Barbara, California. 

There are many different ways to define Adaptive Yoga. Simply put, Adaptive Yoga is a creative mindful approach to adapting poses for the body. This can include using a chair, wall or yoga tools/props. In my view, Adaptive Yoga in any form teaches integration of mind and body sensation over simple physical asana.

Attending the 2015 Accessible Yoga Conference was life changing.  It also ignited my passion to teach. I eventually enrolled in a 200-hour teacher training program. Completing my 200-hour Registered Yoga Training (RYT) inspired me to seek additional training. I completed Accessible Yoga Certification with Jivana Heyman, Barre Training with Jessa Voos, a teaching mentorship with Alexandria Crow, Yoga For All Certification with Dianne Bondy and Amber Barnes, and Matthew Sanford's Mind Body Solutions Opening Yoga Instructor Certification. 

Close the Deal

I’ve met many compassionate guides along the path, and I’m grateful for their wisdom. It fuels my commitment to Adaptive Yoga. 

If yoga teaches us anything it’s self acceptance and trust of our inner selves. For me, yoga is not about the poses; it’s more about paying attention to my body, bringing awareness, and gaining inner strength. 

In the end, I see yoga as a personal, noncompetitive experience—a transforming path to self awareness. 

I encourage my students to let their inner wisdom guide their practice. The beauty of yoga is that everyone’s practice is individual and unique. Tapping into this awareness can change lives.

Discovering yoga has brought my life full circle: being an Adaptive Yoga Teacher makes me feel like a choreographer again. I make up poses and I’m free to explore…it’s a wonderful adventure that keeps me centered.  

As I continue my journey, my heart-based mission is to encourage anyone—no matter size, shape, or physical challenge—to try yoga. 

Finding yoga changed my life. I know it will do the same for you.