Western cultures are realizing the benefits of Yoga, and many classes, videos and DVD’s, books and even online tutorials are available for beginners. However, these aren’t always suitable for blind or visually impaired people who want to learn Yoga. Teachers sometimes move too quickly or provide too little verbal description of the poses, which could cause injury to the beginner. The same is often true of books and video tutorials. They depend more on visual demonstrations than verbal description.
However, blind and visually impaired people can still reap the many benefits Yoga offers. Below are some low-cost ways to learn Yoga if you’re blind or visually impaired, or even if you’re sighted but more of an auditory learner.
Yoga Resources for the Blind
Yogadownload.com offers many downloadable Yoga classes. Many styles of Yoga are covered, from beginner to advanced levels. Not all classes are suitable for the blind, as they require video tutorials and/or printable pose guides that are not accessible to screen-reading software. But here are some very accessible introductory classes.
Instructor Jaime teaches Office Yoga #1. This class can be ordered in several durations, the longest being the 20-minute MP3. Although this class offers a pose guide, it isn’t necessary because good verbal descriptions of poses are provided in the class. It does move rather quickly, so you may have to stop the recording while you complete the poses the first few times.
Basic stretches are presented here, and all you need is a desk or kitchen chair. Among the most helpful are neck, shoulder, back and hip opening poses. Basic instruction on controlled, even breathing is included as well. This is a good introduction to Hatha (sun/moon) Yoga practice.
Jaime also teaches a longer introductory Hatha Yoga class, called Intro to Yoga #1. This class can be downloaded in a 60-minute version, as well as shorter lengths, if you don’t have time or endurance for an hour workout. For this class you need a Yoga mat, and listening to the class before trying the poses is helpful. Again, a printable pose guide is available, but not necessary.
This session takes you through leg opening poses and many others, focusing on the physical benefits of Yoga practice. These include increased flexibility and muscle tone, cardiovascular workout, deeper breathing, and decreased pain and tension in the body. This is a good way to begin your day.
Chakra Balancing Yoga is another very accessible Yoga download. Taught by Natalie Mazel, the 30-minute version moves through the 7 main Chakras (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, third eye/brow, and crown). For each Chakra a Yoga pose is given to balance and strengthen the energy flow, along with a vowel sound you can tone, and an affirmation to further focus your practice. It ends with a short meditation, and all that is required is a mat and this MP3 file you can play on any PC, Mac, or portable device that supports the MP3 format.
Other classes may be accessible as well; however, these are the ones I’ve completed as a blind beginner to Yoga practice. I hope you find something here to start enjoying Yoga for yourself.