- Associated Press - Monday, October 31, 2016

NATICK, Mass. (AP) - Jennifer Davis has always been interested in yoga, but she thought her disability would prevent her from enjoying the activity.

Yet Davis, who had her left leg amputated above the knee after an SUV struck her and pushed her into a store window 15 years ago, and other people with disabilities spent part of Friday afternoon bending in different yoga postures under the watchful eye of yoga instructor Rick Frank and assistants.

“It’s been wonderful,” Davis, said of Frank’s adaptive yoga class. “It’s helped me a lot with balance on my crutches, posture and definitely mentally. I feel a lot more relaxed afterwards.”

Frank, who is also an occupational therapist, runs a weekly yoga class from 12:45 to 2:15 p.m. Fridays at Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts on Rte. 27 in Natick.

Adaptions including taking the essence of yoga postures and replicating them in a way his clients can perform them. Standing postures, for example, may be adapted and done sitting down, he said.

Participants may feel stronger and more limber and have less pain, he said of some of the benefits.

And, they are participating in an activity many of their able-bodied peers enjoy.

“It helps people feel more whole and less seeing themselves as damaged,” Frank said.

Each class costs $25, though financial assistance is available for those in need, he said.

During Friday’s class, Frank and assistants helped participants maneuver into different postures, providing support and other help as needed.

Frank told participants to stop if something hurts or they need a rest.

“I welcome you to do what suits you,” he said.

Ryan DeRoche, 35, said he participated in yoga at a summer camp for people with spinal cord injuries and then sought a yoga program locally. DeRoche, who uses a wheelchair, said yoga helps him relax and get into positions he couldn’t get into otherwise.

“I live in Melrose, so it’s not the quickest commute, but it’s worth it,” he said. “It’s worth every minute.”

Rika McNally, 58, of Natick, who has muscle tingling and weakness and has trouble standing and getting up off the floor, said she is unable to take a traditional yoga class. She said she didn’t think she could do any yoga class, but has come to enjoy this one.

“My balance is better,” she said. “It’s just really relaxing. A lot of times during the week, my muscles get tight and when I leave, I just feel fantastic.”


Information from: MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.), https://www.metrowestdailynews.com

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