Making yoga accessible to all

A continuing medical education course recently offered on the DMU campus was well aligned with the University’s vision as a leader in health care education, its commitment to providing educational experiences that improve health, and its value of inclusiveness: Accessible yoga training focuses on how to make yoga available to everyone regardless of his/her shape, size, ability or background. Sarah Elizabeth Helt, a registered yoga teacher, offered the training to five DMU faculty members in the doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) program along with other health care providers and yoga teachers.

Participants in accessible yoga training learn to adapt positions based on a person’s physical function.

“Philosophically, the intent is adapting yoga for accessibility to everyone,” says Associate Professor Kathy Mercuris, P.T., D.H.S. “Overall, I learned a lot, and I plan to integrate some of this information into my tai chi classes.

Participants in the training learned variations of yoga poses that could be performed by a person sitting in a chair or lying on the floor or a bed as well as standing. Foam blocks, rolled-up blankets and other items were used to practice positions as they could be done by people with physical dysfunction or balance issues.

“The approach is to consider what each pose is supposed to do for a person and then change the gravity if needed,” says Laura Covill, P.T., D.P.T., OCS, PYT, associate professor of physical therapy. She teaches a medical therapeutic course designed for licensed health care providers. “If a person does a pose in a chair or on the floor, it may not be as strengthening physically, but the person still can focus on breathing and get the mental benefits of yoga.”

Dr. Mercuris adds the course fits DMU’s mission of improving lives in our global community as well as faculty members’ commitment to lifelong learning.

“By offering this at DMU and allowing our faculty and staff to attend, we will be able to pass this on in the education of our students,” she says. “As health care professionals, we will be using it during our community exercise classes and in treating our patients.”

For more information on the University’s wide variety of continuing medical education offerings, visit its CME website. For information on the special classes and programs offered by faculty and clinicians in the DMU Physical Therapy Clinic, click here.

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