Adaptive VS Accessible Yoga?

You may have noticed a new phrase we’ve been using in our newsletters and on social media lately – Adaptive Yoga – and wondered, what does that mean, and why are we using it?

Accessibility is a hugely broad term, and can point to the myriad ways that a space or a service intentionally includes individuals who would otherwise experience barriers to access, from financial to cultural to physical. When it comes to ability, a few examples of accessibility are things like wheelchair-accessible ramps, sign-language communication for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, low lighting and softened noise for folks recovering from traumatic brain injuries, and so much more.

At The Branches, we’re choosing to use the word adaptive to set a more distinct focus for physical capacity with regard to mobility. In sum, the intention of Adaptive Yoga is to meet you where you’re at. This is an ethos we’ve aimed to manifest at the studio overall, but we’re choosing to create even more intentional and dedicated spaces for folks who might need or want them.

So, rather than teaching one-size-fits all poses and expecting all students to keep up with an intense pace, an Adaptive Yoga class empowers students with a multitude of strategies to adapt yoga poses and pacing to what works for their bodies. This often means using a chair as a key prop, and taking more time for teacher-student interaction than what typically happens in a flow class.

While students at The Branches may already have begun to learn adaptive strategies in some of our drop-in classes, especially Essentials and Slow Flow, we aim to offer more clearly dedicated opportunities for folks to engage with Yoga. One upcoming course, Adaptive Yoga With A Chair, might be a great place for you to practice if you…

  • use a mobility aid
  • have been sedentary for a long time
  • have lost some mobility over the years
  • experienced pain and difficulty moving in yoga classes in the past

The poses and sequences in our Adaptive Yoga courses are designed to adapt a conventional yogasana practice in (at least, but not limited to) the following specific ways:

  1. reducing or eliminating weight-bearing on your knees or wrists/hands
  2. minimizing the number of times you go down to and get up from the floor to once or none
  3. using external support for balance poses and explorations 
  4. relating to yoga props as a tool for growth and empowerment

If you’ve ever felt like flow yoga classes just don’t work for your wrists, knees, body size, or ability, but you do want to challenge your capacity beyond the borders of a gentle-only yoga practice, Adaptive Yoga is a great place to connect your mind and body, empower yourself, and build capacity progressively. Our Adaptive Yoga sessions are taught by an experienced teacher who can skillfully share options with a wide range of body sizes and abilities and help you grow within your own limitations.

You might see yourself or a friend or family member in the above descriptions. We encourage you to take a closer look at the options for Adaptive Yoga at The Branches, to take a leap of faith and sign up for a course, or to pass this blog post on to someone who might benefit from a yoga practice that meets them exactly where they’re at.

Ways to explore Adaptive Yoga at The Branches:

  • Sept 2021: Adaptive Yoga With A Chair – Virtual Course
  • Oct 2021: Adaptive Yoga – In-Studio Course (Please note: our ground floor studio requires 5 steps to entry. We apologize for this lack of accessibility, and continue to work towards our new ramp project.)
  • On-going: Branches On-Demand subscription has a broad selection of practices with an adaptive lens
  • Coming in 2022: Adaptive Yoga 30-Day Challenge!