Live Accessible, Adaptive, Chair, and Kids Yoga

Chair Yoga MTWTF 11-11:55AM PST Gentle/Senior/Adaptive Yoga for ID/DD Adults M&F 1-1:45 PM PST for waiver and to register! •

Saturday, May 29, 2021

SubCult Yoga

Wacky, weird, and worth the minimum patreon-age of least $3/month. Stand-up southern cultured comedy, podcasts, politics, art shares and activism, book club and brainstorming, mutual aid and mutual admiration with Dollar Store Drew Morgan and DJ D.J. Lewis. Plus a smattering of yoga with Jessica P. and me. All levels mat-style.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Schedule Change for 2021 Summer

Zoom classes

After over a year of Zooming every weekday, I am changing the Zoom schedule this summer. Starting in June, we will be meeting (just) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday online (still at 11am PST). I have some other activities happening, and I'm trying to start a yoga non-profit project, and class numbers are reducing due to gyms opening back up, so I want to concentrate our time together efficiently.

The link will be the same. 

We have a short break due to the Memorial Day holiday (Monday May 31), and we will start our new schedule Wednesday June 2. If you aren't already attending, email me at to register and get the link.


I'm also teaching in person at the Copley YMCA at 9AM on Tuesdays and their classes are transitioning to be indoors next week. They also have two chair yoga classes on their schedule so check out your local Y classes too!

The Garden

I have an outdoor class at the Cuyamaca College Water Conservation Garden on Thursdays. Until the end of June it meets at 1PM. Starting in July it will change to 10AM (to avoid the heat). Classes are free with membership (that includes 5 other weekly classes plus a host of other bonuses and reciprocal membership at gardens all over the state and country).

Hope to see you around town (or the internet)!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Homemade Yoga Props (Hacks?)

Designer labels aside, yoga props are still "spendy" when it comes down to it. An inexpensive yoga mat runs $10 but it will disintegrate with moderate usage in a month (leaving little foam particles all over you and your floor), and it's probably not eco-friendly. A yoga block is another $5, and you usually need two. A strap is another $5, and if you want one that will hold up to actual usage, and you aren't buying in bulk, the price tag doubles. A blanket? $20 minimum. Want a stylish Zafu meditation cushions? Those will set you back $50 or $500 depending on your interior decorating sense!

So just to get on your mat you could be out $50, even with cheap tools. You could just sit on a rug, but if you require ways to elevate your feet, extend your reach, or create better alignment, even "easy pose" isn't easy. 

Back in my early days of super active yoga, I had a teacher that would start many diatribes against privileges with "Well, in IIIIIIIIIIndia..." as she would berate our need for drinking water "too soon" in class (she, a tall, lithe, white woman in pricey clothing, with nose piercings, a holistic vegan diet, and the temperament of a Bengal tiger). I do not mean to imply that using props in general is a privilege.  Yes, one could consider the yoga wall (,  pelvic swing (, and inversion devices ( privileged accoutrement. However, if you consider (as I do) yoga a holistic practice that can be used as a therapy for mind/body health, not just fancy exercise, and not just somethings for elite folks, then you might agree with me that investing in simply props like a block, a blanket, a sturdy chair, and a strap are certainly more fundamental for creating an accessible practice.

That being said, it's not always feasible to drop $50 for props. So here are some of my creative thoughts on either making your own props, or "5 minutes craft" style cheats to get the most out of what you may have around the house.

Not a Yoga Rapper, I find that having a second chair available for chair yoga (or a desk surface, or being close to wall) gives you a great advantage for creating pose variations. For example, if downward dog with arms up at a 45° angle is hard on your shoulders or causes your back to round, try putting the hands on back of the seat of chair in front of you instead (as you might do in a chair-supported standing class). Another option might to have your chair close to a wall, and use that surface as if it's a mat.

Two chairs also work wonderfully for side bends; place the second chair next to you, then one hand on that seat to support you (rather than trying to hold the side of the chair on which you are sitting). 

Another application is two chairs for standing poses. Position the backs of the chairs facing one another, you standing between them. This gives two "handles" of gentle reassurance! Reminder that the chairs themselves can't do all the work and are only props, not orthopedic designated medical supports, so be careful and mindful. 

A simple sturdy single step stool will substitute nicely to elevate the floor to be within reach for a foot, a hand, or the knees. If the surface is textures rubber and too hard for placing anything but a foot, try using a hand towel. Make sure the stool has non-skid feet. A short step-ladder might work as well.

Yoga straps are great for binding body parts together and help move arms and legs synchronously. The also distribute force better than, say, a rope. But in a pinch, a very long leather belt can work, though I prefer something made of fabric, like the belt from a robe. Also useful are those rubber/latex fitness bands. However, it's important no matter what type of strap you use, not to wrap the strap around your hand to tighten your grip; instead, reach further on the strap to prevent circulation risk.

Yoga blankets are wonderful because they are woven tightly and can be folded and rolled to create a various support surfaces. Equally versatile are large bath or beach towels. Pick up a couple at the good will (the less "fluffy" the better for support), and practice folding into different configuration to meet the shape of your body horizontally and vertically, and rolling to fit under your knees, along your spine, neck, etc. A small roll makes a great neck support for seated savasana.

I've seen foot rolling tools sell for $20 or more in novelty stores, but the easiest tools I've found for massaging those pesky plantar fascia are frozen 16.9oz water bottles. Just fill almost all the way (remember water expands when it freezes), make sure the cap is seated and tight, then freeze in an upright position. You can also use marbles, or smooth pebbles from your garden (or a bag of those cheap glass rocks from the 99 cent store for floral arrangements) in a bowl of warm or cool water to destress your feet. 

You can use a cheap rolling pin to roll out tight muscles and fascia adhesions, but you can also make your own "foam roller" using a wood dowel and pool noodle. Cut a pool noodle to about 12" or 18", then a dowel to about 22" (about 10" longer so you have 5" handles). Slide the dowel down the center of the noodle. Cover the ends of the dowel in grip tape (or Duck Tape) and you have a quick cheap body massage tool.

A terrific application of an affordable nature was submitted by a student in my online chair yoga class. Many household chairs have seatbacks that are hard, and uncomfortable for holding during poses like modified plank, or even difficult for someone with wrist issues to grip. I have been using a folded blanket draped over the back, which is good cushioning but it does tend to slip.

Here's an inexpensive idea for you to try. 
  1. Pick up a round (not textured) Styrofoam pool noodle. We have had thin ones at our dollar store for $1, and more durable ones at sporting good stores for $2.99. All of them have openings down the center.
  2. Measure the side-to-side length of the back of your chair, and cut the length of the pool noodle to fit. 
  3. With a utility knife, slice down one half lengthwise of the noodle all the way down. Be careful not to cut all the way through and only go to the center. 
  4. Pry the noodle open enough to slide the opening over the back of your chair. 
  5. It should be a tight fit. If it doesn't slide on, you may need to cut a thin "pie wedge" piece out of the noodle to make the opening bigger. 
  6. You can use duct tape to secure any cracks as the noodle wears, or buy a new noodle. 

Let me know any hacks that you have, and send pictures of your creative use of props!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Yoga in A Different Type of Community

I'm excited that I'm teaching yoga with a new group of friends. I've actually never met them in person; we follow one another on various social media platforms. But the big thing we have in common is a love for a group of comedians under the WellRed Comedy umbrella. You might think, "So, you're all just comic nerds or super fans?" You'd be mostly right, but we've become quite a bit more than that. 

With stand-up comedy ground to a halt due to COVID restrictions, this particular subset of American comics decided they would take their craft online. In addition to podcasts, they had Zoom comedy shows. The gents found out the community they were fostering was more cohesive than just a random group of fans. Some of the folks had started a big Facebook group; pre-pandemic they even would travel to go to shows with one another. Now, they were even having "coffee talks" on Zoom on Sundays and started an online gaming group! 

We started to recognize each other in audiences and would chat via text while shows ran. We connected with each other on multiple social media platforms, and exchanged personals. The relationships have been forged such that we support each other when someone needs help, either emotional or even financial. People have been inspired to create mutual aid groups, volunteer for political actions, and been helped writing resumes and moving from one town to another. The hosts have regular bi-weekly "shows" that give artists a chance to show off their wares whether that be telling jokes, singing/songwriting, working tarot, or doing magic. Some podcast content is behind the Patreon paywall, much is free, and as always, the audience (the fans) is encouraged to tip any contributing artist (via venmo, zelle, paypal) for support. 

We have veterans, folks from every walk of life, those in the "redneck" community and those that have been accepted and "red adjacent" like myself. The community as of tonight started having virtual art gallery shows that features works from folks that do in-home woodworking, to acrylic painting, to 40-foot towers of children's toys There's a group effort to write an origin story of the community (it's heavy with quasi-Appalachian folklore and dialect). We discuss politics, spread the word on activism and Mutual Aid (we have experts in the profession), and do fundraisers.

Now, we have something I can contribute more than just dollars and a laughing voice. Another teacher and I collaborated to offer YOGA to the community. Anyone who is a Patreon subscriber to at the basic level ($3/month) can listen to the lion's share of the podcasts, get to join in on the Friday night "blue" shows, and also can tune in for what we call Hollerville Yoga. We do mat-based yoga, and Jessica and I alternate weeks. We have a little bit of flow, a little bit of meditation, and a lot of fun. What makes it so very special is that it grew organically out of this community. Of course it's open to anyone who wants to be part of it, with the only "gate" being the paywall. And true to form of people to whom I am not inexplicably drawn, no one will be turned away for inability to pay; if the basic subscription rate for Patreon is too much, the hosts will waive the fee to make sure they reach everyone who wants can be a part. Same goes for yoga.

Accessible comedy, accessible yoga, It's a grand idea, innit?

Saturday, March 6, 2021

If It's Not Accessible, It's Not Yoga

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by Jivana Heyman

My background is in AIDS activism, and in the 1990’s I started teaching yoga so that I could share these practices with my community of people with HIV and AIDS. We were in the middle of an epidemic, and many of my students were extremely sick and dying. What my students and I learned together was that yoga offered accessible and powerful tools for healing on a deep mental, emotional, and spiritual level. My students showed me that yoga could offer them healing even when they were dying. Since then, I’ve been trying to honor their legacy by sharing this message with the yoga community. The message is that yoga is not about physical achievement or even physical healing; yoga is about a deep internal spiritual connection.

What’s really remarkable about yoga is that it allows us to engage every aspect of our being –– our body, our breath, our mind, and our actions –– in our spiritual journey. This is unusual since most spiritual practices don’t offer us such powerful techniques for incorporating the body in our practice. Yoga offers us the opportunity to allow the body to flow in the moving prayer of asana. But we can’t let the beauty and power of asana fool us. Yoga is not about the body.

The truth of yoga is that the body and mind are temporary, constantly changing, and mortal, but the spirit is immortal, everlasting, and pure. This is the lesson of The Bhagavad Gita, where Sri Krishna explains: “You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies.” (Easwaran 2.20)

When we overly simplify yoga to just be about the poses, we strip it of its most essential meaning. We appropriate the practice from its traditional roots in India and turn it into a commodity to be sold by capitalist interests. So the issue is more than just one of respect and care for continuing the ancient legacy of the yoga lineage. It’s about holding these precious teachings in a way that respects their purpose, their background, and their proper application.

In order to do so, we need to consider the fullness of the practice. The essential teaching of yoga is that we all share the same spiritual essence no matter what our backgrounds or ability may be. We share the same essence whether we have a disability, whether we have a larger body, or if we’re a senior, or a child. We have got to let go of this idea of advanced asana equaling advanced yoga. There really is no correlation between our physical ability and the depth of our spiritual connection. This is why I always say that if it’s not accessible it’s not yoga. Because we all have equal access to the heart of yoga, and it’s up to each of us to find a form for our practice that allows us to unite with the spirit within.

Jivana Heyman, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of Accessible Yoga, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. Accessible Yoga offers Conferences, Community Conversations, a Blog, and an Ambassador program. He’s the creator of the Accessible Yoga Training, and the author of the book, Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body (Shambhala Publications, 2019). Jivana has specialized in teaching yoga to people with disabilities and out of this work, the Accessible Yoga organization was created to support education, training, and advocacy with the mission of shifting the public perception of yoga. More info at

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.