Beginning Yoga for the Blind in the Media

Marty's Yoga Flow Video

My intention for making the YouTube video is to inspire as many visually impaired people as possible to get more involved in yoga. I truly believe it will help them enjoy their lives more. Please check out the link below and pass it on to anyone, visually impaired or sighted, who you think could benefit from seeing or hearing descriptions of the yoga flow.


View on YouTube

Please note that this video is not an example of what you will find in “Beginning yoga for the blind and visually impaired.” All the audio descriptions of the yoga postures in the 5 Cd package are clear and very detailed. If you are curious about our yoga package after viewing the video, please visit the home page and click on the link to Cobra pose to hear a detailed description of just one of the 24 postures in the CD package. This will give you a good idea of how we teach.

Interview with Michael Neely from Consciously Speaking

This was a very interesting interview I did with Michael Neeley on his podacst Consciously Speaking. You can click here to open the audio track directly or visit www.michaelneeley.com for more information about the work he does.

Podcast with Marty on KOCIABA-fitness.com

A great interview in the KOCIABA-finess.com Real World Fitness servies. Click here to go to the podcast page, scroll down to PODCAST and press enter and the interview will begin, or click here to open the audio track directly

Marty on the Radio with Krystala

On December 29 Krystalya interviewed me on her radio show about empowerment for the blind and the value of yoga in our lives. It’s a great interview and worth listening to. Please contact me if you have any questions after listening to the interview… and enjoy!. Aired 12/29/14. Listen to the interview with Krystalya  

LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health - www.layogamagazine.com

While Yoga is a practice that integrates all of the senses as a means to being present, it does not mean that a disability in one of the senses makes a person any less able as a practitioner. When one our senses that receives information from the outside world is at all diminished, it provides the opportunity to more fully concentrate on the others. In some ways, this actually facilitates the practice of Yoga, which asks of us to draw our attention inward, a fitting practice. The five-disc set Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired is an encyclopedic resource to guide people who do not have the sense of sight, to fully engage in a suitable and meaningful Yoga practice.

Partners in teaching and life, Marty Klein and Gretchen Hein united to create this instructional series when they recognized the dearth of attention in the Yoga community given to teaching those who are not able to rely on visual cues. Klein lost his sight when serving in US Air Force during the Vietnam era. He subsequently sought out theories, groups and practices focused on health and well-being, studied massage and became a licensed massage therapist and then began his Yoga practice in the mid-80s. In his massage practice, Klein noticed the physical tension carried in the bodies of visually impaired people who walk through their day not knowing if their next step will bring an undesirable surprise. As a result, Klein and Hein created this Yoga tutorial with the intention of providing tools for people who are visually impaired to lessen their physical and mental tension through Yoga practice.

Hein, who has practiced Yoga since the mid-70s and is a yoga instructor and well-studied in the Kripalu, Iyengar and Anusara traditions, provides the detailed instructions for the postures in this series. Klein adds to the teaching by adding his personal insights into how the poses offer specific benefit both for people who are blind and for the body in general.

The Hatha Yoga practiced here incorporates the use of the wall, props (such as a chair and mat) and the floor to develop a sense of body awareness, alignment and position in space. Many basic types of movement are covered, from back extensions, forward bends, twists, kneeling and supine postures and inversions, including a supported shoulder stand series.

The facilitators’ depth of Yogic knowledge and true understanding of what it means to be visually impaired creates is a valuable tool for visually impaired students to create a rewarding personal Yoga practice.

While it is more focused on aiding someone who is visually impaired, this program could also be a good resource for teachers working with students who have visual impairments as it explains their unique situation and how to provide instruction through cueing senses other than the visual. Following the belief that no one should be deprived of Yoga, this is a good catalyst for people with visually impairments who have always wanted to make the jump towards their Yoga practice, but didn’t know where to leap. For more information: blindyoga.net.

--Reviewed by Vanessa M. Harris

 

Keep it clear: Yoga instruction for the visually impaired

“Blind people carry a lot of tension in their bodies,” says Gretchen Hein of Namaste Yoga. “They never know when they might get hit or fall off a sidewalk. Yoga is very beneficial for them, but blind and visually impaired people don’t often come to yoga classes, which can be intimidating, and most of the CD’s I’ve listened to don’t break the poses down properly.”

Hein and Marty Klein, have recorded a set of five CD’s entitled Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired, designed for use at home and as an introduction for those wishing to join classes. Sighted people wishing to practice at home will also find the directions explicit and easy to follow, while yoga teachers can learn from the instructional detail.

Three of the disks feature Hein’s sweetly clear, steady voice guiding the practitioner through a series of yoga postures, each with its own track, plus a one-hour class. Additional insights from the blind perspective are provided by Klein, a massage therapist, counselor, writer, and musician who lost his vision completely in 1974. The other two CD’s include general information about yoga, provide warm-up and alignment exercises, and offer advice for yoga teachers. “You can give the CD to a yoga teacher to listen to,” says Hein. “It explains, for example, that a teacher shouldn’t rush in to take care of you every time something goes wrong, or flip out if you get frustrated.”

Klein was introduced to yoga by Kingston instructor and spiritual teacher Jonji Provenzano, currently undergoing chemotherapy for stomach cancer. Klein, who has practiced yoga for over twenty years, comments, “Often a yoga teacher will come and give me personal attention, and I don’t want it. I want clear descriptions. There’s not a lot of consciousness around disability in yoga classes. They think there is, but there isn’t.”

Hein’s narration was developed through a series of classes with blind and visually impaired people, who gave feedback on her directions. “I was trained in the Kripalu tradition,” she says, “in which people are guided to listen to the body. I’ve also studied in the Anusara and Iyengar traditions, so I address alignment with more precision than most Kripalu practitioners.”

On the CD’s, she offers activities to help blind and visually impaired people orient their bodies in space. “We use our sight to refine our sense of alignment,” she explains. “If you’re told to raise your arm to the side at shoulder height, we can use our eyes to correct the angle, but blind people don’t have that. I start by having them stand by a wall to help them feel where the body is in balance. Having the body out of alignment eventually creates pain. By rectifying that, you begin to get your full body back—that’s one of the beauties of yoga.”

Among the tips offered by Klein is how to deal with the balancing postures, such as the “tree pose”, where the practitioner stands on one leg. Students are usually instructed to focus the eyes on a point straight ahead to help with balance. Klein says, “I suggest that you turn on a radio ten to fifteen feet away and focus on where the sound is coming from.” Other hints include how to deal with confusing directions from a yoga teacher (a problem many sighted students also encounter); how to use the mat to maintain alignment; how to avoid injury; how yoga can help with lower back pain; and much more.

“There are 10.5 million blind and legally blind people in the U.S.,” says Klein. “That’s one low-vision person for every 30 sighted people. But how many blind or visually impaired people do you know? I’m out a lot, but I’m almost always the only blind person around. They tend to stay home, where they have more control and there’s less weird stuff they have to deal with.”

Klein is the author of two books, Emotional Cleansing: The Spiritual Journey Toward a Clear Heart (Creative Arts Book Company, 2002) and Blind Sighted: One Man’s Journey from Sight to Insight (Baba Doofus, 1993). He comments, “My whole existence is about finding ways to empower visually impaired people. I started a website and wrote over 100 movie reviews that tell whether a film is easy or difficult to follow by listening, how much help you need from a sighted assistant to understand what’s happening in the silent parts. In Florida, I started a disabled social hour and gave workshops for visually impaired people and their allies. I want us to become more prevalent out in the world so people will get used to it, instead of seeing it as something awkward, new, and weird.”

- - by Violet Snow