NAF Wheelchair Yoga Podcast

March 28, 2008 · Print This Article

This weekend was the 51st annual Ataxia Conference for the National Ataxia Foundation (NAF) in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Ralph and Jennifer Miller presented a segment on wheelchair yoga.  The audio for this segment can be found at the end of this post.

Hightlights of the 2008 National Ataxia Foundation Wheelchair Yoga Session


  1. When starting your practice of wheelchair Yoga, choose one Yoga pose and do it daily.  Add on new poses as time and interest allows
  2. Yoga is a celebration of the expression of the pose in your body in a completely unique way.  No two poses will be the same.  Do your best to express the pose uniquely and fully in your own body
  3. Stretch only to where you feel a mild discomfort.  If you feel pain, ease up on the stretch or come out of it completely


  1. Take it easy, take it slow
  2. If you have rods along your spine, consult with a physician.  In general, follow the natural movements of your body.  I.e. if you do a movement normally as part of your everyday life, then you may do it, but be sure to be mindful of your range of motion.

Benefits of Wheelchair Yoga

  1. Wheelchair Yoga can be used to control pain by helping you to control your experience of pain
  2. Wheelchair Yoga can be used to help improve breathing, especially for those with asthma, and may reduce dependence on inhalers
  3. To see improvements, you need to have a daily practice of Yoga for several months


  1. The breath is your connection to your energy
  2. No matter what you’re body is doing, focus on your breath.
  3. Become centered in your breath

Belly Breathing

  1. Breathe into your low belly, the sides of your belly and your low back
  2. Practice lying down
  3. A steady breath means a steady mind 
  4. Come back to an awareness of the breath whenever you can throughout your day

Spine Health

  1. Spine flexibility is connected to your health 
  2. Three directions of flexibility for your spine

           a. Forward and back

           b. Side-to-side

           c. Twisting

Three stretches for the three directions of the spine

  1. Cat & Cow
  2. Side Bend
  3. Twist


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5 Responses to “NAF Wheelchair Yoga Podcast”

  1. Louise Ikeda on April 6th, 2008 6:14 pm

    I enjoyed the session on wheelchair yoga in Las Vegas. I am determined to do it daily now that I have something to folllow (I printed the material from your web site). I wanted to do yoga for sometime & now I have some direction. Thank you

  2. Claire Balfour on March 30th, 2009 2:59 pm

    Hi, I am the trainer for our company who looks after people with spinal cord & brain injuries in their own homes.

    I am also currently training to be a yoga teacher and would like to bring disability yoga into New Zealand as it does not seem to occur here.

    Many thanks, Claire

  3. john mccafferty on April 18th, 2009 12:34 pm

    i cant believe i trekked all the way to indonesia when i could have googled wheelchair yoga. ah well, it wasnt a wasted journey.
    i practice kundalini yoga weekly and ill incorporate this into my life aswell,

    ta very much.

  4. Brenda Whiteway on October 8th, 2009 4:16 am

    I'm so excited to have found your site! I've been in a wheelchair for a few years now, and have searched everywhere (or so I thought) for some guidance and/or instruction in wheelchair yoga. Do you, by any chance, have a video available that I could use for daily practice? Alternatively, could you refer me to any person/site that might have something similar? I'm in Canada, and have not found anything locally. Using the internet would be the next best thing! Thanks!

  5. Carol Hutchinson on May 8th, 2010 11:12 pm

    Hello, I am so glad to find this. I am a certified yoga instructor who is training to be an occupational therapist at SUNY Orange. My aim is to use my yoga experience with people with disabilities and I see you are doing it! We are having a conference on Assitive Technologies at the college next weekend and I've just been asked to lead a few chair yoga/wheelchair yoga 20 minute sessions throughout the day. What I had in mind was similar to what you had outlined in your NAF session. How did you get involved with the Mational Ataxia Foundation? I would like to correspond with you. Anyway, Would you mind if I printed one or two of your pictures to put on a poster for Wheelchair yoga? Thanks.
    Namaste, Carol

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