Yoga is for all, no matter what abilities or disabilities we are faced with
New Horizons is a special place that has been providing homes and support services for individuals with physical disabilities for the past 33 years. It’s located in Connecticut, in the USA. The 101 residents there face daily challenges as a result of their physical disabilities — but there’s still room for yoga. In fact, yoga has been shown to be a wonderful way to reduce stress and bring relief and relaxation around the community home.
New Horizons (NHVillage.org) recently partnered with local yoga instructor Anita Barbero and health group Cigna in order to spread the word. At one event at the village, more than 50 people came together to practice in what was hailed as a “wonderful safe and inclusive environment”. Vinyasa Flow and Chair Yoga was offered so that individuals of all abilities could participant together, along the theme of compassionate connection. The group also enjoyed live drumming and the soothing sounds of healing bowls, reflecting some of the depth and diversity the world of yoga and wellness brings with it.
“Yoga is food for the soul,” said one of the participants, Gwen, a resident at the New Horizons home. “The community yoga event was an excellent way to relax. I particularly liked the mindful meditation which I will be incorporating into my daily medication.”
The practice also helps in her quest for independence in the face of her disabilities. In 1982, just before her 30th birthday, Gwen was injured in a car accident along with her sister and brother. She was ejected 25 feet, landing on nearby railway tracks, suffering injuries that have left her wheelchair-bound. For 33 years after the accident, she continued to live with her parents and brother, before moving into her New Horizons home. “I determine and dictate my own life,” she said. “I have the freedom to be who I am.”
It highlights the power of yoga not only to bring peace and greater movement to people, but also in building confidence and nurturing hope in the face of adversity.
“I believe as a yoga teacher and human being, that staying open in heart and mind, in order to receive all the blessings, is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves,” said yoga teacher Anita Barbero (anitabarbero.com). “When we do this we can then pass that same gift of love and compassion to another. This community yoga practice was an experience of openly connecting one heart to another in an inclusive all-loving environment passing the gift of compassionate connection heart to heart."