When Yoga Calls: Gentle Poses for Every (Dis)Ability Level

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 10.09.16 AMYoga’s calling me today.

Non-yogis tend to see yoga as a soft exercise. A boring combination of stretching and breathing. You know – not a work out.

And it can be among the gentler types of exercise. Yogic philosophy stresses honoring the body, and types of yoga vary from restorative, which involves pillows, props, and lots of support, to vigorous and challenging asanas (poses), flows, and sequences.

But ever since my autoimmune system’s overrun my body, I have found that even gentle classes can be painful. On tough days, even standards like Adho Mukha Vṛkṣāsana (downward-facing dog) and Marjaryasana (cat pose) hurt my wrists and knees.

Luckily, there are resources that provide lists of poses for people of all levels of (dis)ability. The poses are hand-picked because they are easy on the joints and require entry-level balance and stamina.

Don’t be put off by labels. Yoga resources for people with disabilities are simply normal yoga poses that happen to be accessible to beginners and people with physical challenges. You’ll run into these poses during more strenuous practices, too.

Here’s the resource I’m using today:

Yoga Positions for People with Disabilities – WhatDisability.comIt lists poses that look easy on my ankles, knees, wrists, and hands, and I’ve done enough yoga to be able to follow along with written directions.

If you prefer to see someone model or lead you through gentle yoga poses, follow this video, which goes through 3 Hatha yoga poses that can be done by almost everyone. If you stay tuned after the initial video, you’ll find other yoga poses meant to help with specific problem areas & issues. Shout out to instructor Amy Newman for such a great resource.

7 Comments on “When Yoga Calls: Gentle Poses for Every (Dis)Ability Level

  1. Beth this post is really helpful. I love it. I hope you’ll post more about your experiences with yoga because I could learn from it!


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  3. I appreciate your approach and perspective, Beth. Late last year I began attending a yoga class for the first time, but certain poses seriously aggravated a rotator cuff issue, which turned into a “frozen shoulder,” so I had to quit for awhile. I’ve used light weights and other exercises to rehab the shoulder and am almost ready for a gentle re-entry to yoga. Your post and resource links inspire me to get going.


    • Oh, frozen shoulder is terrible – you poor thing! Another thing about yoga, and I will write about this, is to find a practice that serves you. Sometimes that means creating your own, but sometimes that means finding a great studio & teacher. Accept my congratulations on your effort and gentle urging to keep at it. Let’s all honor our bodies a bit.


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