Stories from the brainreels guest: Sarahjoy Marsh of DAYA Foundation

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It’s pretty straightforward to find info and stories about the benefits of yoga for people with brain injury and other disabilities. If you have access to medical journals, you’ll see fancy research articles about how yoga and meditation work for someone with TBI. I haven’t read those articles because I know first-hand how it’s worked for me with balance, relaxation, developing willpower and self-control, strength, helping reduce fatigue, and more. It’s great stuff for me whether I practice at home by myself, in a class setting, or in a private lesson with my yoga therapist teacher friend Sarahjoy Marsh. Not only does Sarahjoy have intimate and advanced understandings of yoga and physical therapy, but she has also experienced how yoga has supported her own development and rehabilitation after a car wreck.

Here’s Sarahjoy now! A white woman in yoga clothes sits on the floor and leans forward over straightened legs, rests her face on her hands, and smiles for the camera.

[Image description: A white woman in yoga clothes sits on the floor and leans forward over straightened legs, rests her face on her hands, and smiles for the camera.]

You might notice the fabulous benefits I listed above are personal. Me, me, me, and how yoga makes me feel better. When you go to one of the classes at the DAYA Foundation (which stands for Delivering Accessible Yoga Alternatives), you will get all the support you need for you. I love their adaptive yoga class for people with disabilities as well as the deeply personal attention of the private lessons that I took when physical therapy wasn’t working for me and my 80 year old knees. But it’s not just about you being a better you. The classes, space, teachers, assistants, and other students are all fantastic, and it’s about doing yoga in a community.

One of the hallmarks of Sarahjoy’s work is that for her, yoga is about social justice. In our podcast conversation below, she tells some beautiful stories of how yoga helped her develop as a person who could become more available and energized to focus on social justice. Now, for her turn, she teaches others to do the same. A very special project that we talked about is about teaching incarcerated people with TBI, developmental delays, and other disabilities to become certified yoga teachers themselves, specializing in working with these same vulnerable populations. To me, this is the ultimate in something that I try to get across all the time: disabled people (no matter what we call ourselves and what type or amount of impairment we have) are competent, valuable, worthwhile people who can be leaders and teachers. I don’t mean teachers like, “Seeing that person who has it worse than I do taught me not to take my gifts for granted.” No, I mean teachers. Regular teachers. Teachers who know how to accommodate for their own needs and their students’ needs.

Read a beautiful blog post about how yoga supports the lives of people who are incarcerated and how that, in turn, supports our whole society. You can read about the Yoga Outreach Programs in schools, hospitals, drug and alcohol rehab facilities, and correctional institutions at DAYAFoundation.org/programs/outreach-program

And check out her book, Hunger, Hope & Healing as well. There’s a preview of the text on the website. Sarahjoy’s work and perspective are very innovative and dynamic.

If you’re interested in taking some adaptive yoga classes–including a Backbones class specifically for wheelchair users–you should know that the 1, 12, 38, 44, 45, 54, 55, and 56 buses all stop just down the street from the yoga studio! You can go by car as well. All are welcome.

Click here for an accessible transcript of podcast episode #036.