Warrior pose: stand and bring your left foot to the back of the mat, angling it outward forty-five degrees. Your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, raise your arms over your head, palms facing each other. Now try it without the use of all four limbs. Although it sounds incredibly difficult, that’s not stopping amputees from practicing yoga.
Writer, actress, cancer survivor, and yoga teacher Danielle Orner is among the practitioners of yoga for amputees. Diagnosed with bone cancer as a teenager, her right leg was removed below the knee. She went through countless surgeries and bouts of chemotherapy, nearly dying; five years later, however, Orner is healthy and free of cancer. She is a vegan and practices yoga.
In an interview with DOYOU, she shares the ways that yoga brought her back in touch with her own body, allowing her to overcome her self-doubt and gain both physical and emotional strength. “I once believed that I’d never be able to practice yoga and I was so wrong,” says Orner.
Making Yoga More Accessible
Organizations like Portland Yoga are making yoga for amputees accessible to a wider audience. Portland Yoga, which is affiliated with the Yoga Warriors program for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and also offers classes for those with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and more, holds a Yoga for Amputees class every Sunday afternoon at the Yoga Union in Portland, Oregon.
This June, it will also host a workshop when Marsha Therese Danzig, founder of Yoga for Amputees, presents Yoga For Amputees Teacher Training. Danzig, who is a below-the-knee amputee, says that although yoga can seem intimidating to the average person, it’s meant for anyone who “wants to feel better, stronger, more flexible, and more peaceful.”
“I know what it takes to learn how to stand, walk, and be active again,” says Danzig. “We move in Yoga for Amputees. We stretch, we learn how to get better balance, get stronger, gain flexibility, reduce pain, and breathe easier. Because our classes are specifically designed for amputees, our teachers know how to make everyone feel safe with their prosthetics on or off.”
The Future of Yoga for Amputees
Danzig sees a healthy future for the program. “I envision this program being THE signature yoga program for veterans at rehab facilities who have lost limbs, at pain clinics and hospitals worldwide who want to find alternative routes to pain reduction after amputation,” she says.
She hopes that Yoga for Amputees will also be incorporated into the curriculum at occupational and physical therapy training schools and PhD programs, not to mention becoming common at children’s hospitals, global nonprofits, competitive events, and more—including “at your average yoga studio, where any amputee can walk into a yoga class knowing their teacher is well trained in Yoga for Amputees to help them be the best yogis they can be.”
Do you know of any organizations or studios in your community where yoga for amputees is offered? Spread the love, and let the DYY community know below! :-)Image credit: Maria Therese Danzig/Yoga for Amputees