"I Thank God for my Handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God." Helen Keller
I believe Helen Keller, as well as many of the individuals with special needs I am blessed to work with, have a higher sense of present moment awareness than those of us "typical" humans. Whether we are flowing into a yoga pose or dance or settling into savasana, I see students with Downs syndrome or on the Spectrum have very little struggle releasing their ego; from my perceptive, they seem less attached to the whole concept of ego. "Adaptive" is a buzz word meaning the practice or craft is adapted for differently abled students. As yoga practitioners, we all adapt the practice to suit our personal needs. In the special needs community- adaptive shares with the community that the class will be inclusive and cater to ones special needs. Although structure and repetition are expected in Adaptive Yoga, there is no need to cue "leave your judgement and expectations at the door." These students tend to remain in the present moment, leaving those demanding negative thoughts in the past. After reading Ekhart Tolles book, A New Earth , I saw further connection between the present moment and releasing the ego. Tolle shares: "Wanting the need for more comes from ego: 'I am not enough yet, I'd be better off if...." Ego awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. Only presence can free you from the ego. All that is required to be free from the ego is to be aware of it, since ego and awareness are incompatible.
Honestly, I am uncertain whether my following reflection comes from my ego or humility ... after practicing yoga for 25 years, I have just recently gotten a glimpse of the axiom of my practice. Awareness. Like many, I came to yoga for the physical and emotional benefits. Body awareness (yoga asana) can anchor us in the present moment... building overall awareness. The Awareness Journey continues as we struggle to stay present outside of the yoga studio. I began teaching as I saw it the best way to serve others and just seemed like my calling. I have learned so much from all my students... but in particular those differently abled ones that demonstrate present moment awareness, and offer a genuine sense of community and connection when they come to class Perhaps this is why Helen Keller shared, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be touched with the heart." Ann Heckler Adaptive Yoga at Yogaja is currently comprised of young adults with various special needs including those on the spectrum. Monday 4:30-5:15pm Join us to discuss A New Earth at the Yogaja Yoga Book Club on March 22, 3-5pm