Yoga: Wil it help me move to the outer edges of my body?

I turned 40 this year and I am finding that my body is facing new limitations. My wife has been encouraging me to try yoga because 40 years of wear and tear are taking their toll on my body, which I’m sure has been exacerbated by my disability.

The disability, which affects my legs and makes me walk with a cane, has thus far thwarted this endeavor. That is, until I crossed paths with Matthew Sanford. Sanford is a successful yoga instructor and paraplegic. This last part is why I decided to give yoga another shot, and why I gave Sanford a call.

“One of the things that happens when we age is that we tend to pull away from the outer edges of our bodies,” Sanford said.

To illustrate what this means Sanford gave an example of an elderly man, one who is not in pique form.“It seems like the elderly guy that is humped over and can’t stretch his arms straight, he is 90 years old and he is walking across the street with the cane. That will happen to all of us. It happens all the time. The ability to move out and expand out through the outer edges of his body has decreased,” he said. But I’ve got the jump on Sanford’s theoretical slowpoke. My shadow has been complemented by a cane for years. Yoga can counteract this, Sanford said.

The aging process that turns us inward, restricts our movement can be slowed down and experienced differently through yoga’s regiment of mindful — or purposeful — stretching.

Will it help me move to “the outer edges” of my body?

We’ll see. Sanford sent me his DVD, “Beyond Disability: A Yoga Practice with Matthew Sanford.”

I plan to try it out with my son each morning.
“Your body feels really good [after yoga]. It engages you back in your life,” Sanford said.
I will share my progress and yoga tips throughout the summer, including the heartbreaking path that led Sanford to this spiritual practice.

About genemyers

Gene Myers is a New Jersey poet, music journalist and columnist who learned to walk twice. His weekly column is called The Joy of Life. He was awarded first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing by The New Jersey Press Association.
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