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Stretching Without Looking

illustration of 7 people in various yoga poses in front of the word YOGA is for everybody

Stretching Without Looking, a virtual event, is organized monthly for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It essentially involves practicing Yoga, which may not sound exciting to everyone, but it offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental well-being. I recently took part in a session on June 21 and found it to be not only relaxing but also beneficial. I occasionally found myself dozing off during the session. If you're curious about the advantages of Yoga, here are some benefits as listed on johnshopkInsmedicine.org:

  1. Improved strength, balance, and flexibility: Yoga incorporates slow movements and deep breathing, which enhances blood flow and warms up muscles. Holding poses can also help build strength.
  2. Relief from back pain: Yoga is as effective as basic stretching in alleviating pain and improving mobility in individuals with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians even recommends it as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
  3. Eased arthritis symptoms: Gentle yoga has been shown to reduce discomfort in tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis, based on a review of 11 recent studies conducted by Johns Hopkins.
  4. Benefits heart health: Regular yoga practice can reduce stress levels and body-wide inflammation, contributing to a healthier heart. Additionally, it can address factors like high blood pressure and excess weight associated with heart disease.
  5. Improved sleep quality: A consistent bedtime yoga routine can help prepare your mind and body for sleep, leading to better sleep quality and duration.
  6. Increased energy and improved mood: Practicing yoga regularly can provide mental and physical energy, boost alertness and enthusiasm, and reduce negative feelings.
  7. Stress management: Scientific evidence supports the use of yoga in managing stress, promoting mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss, and quality sleep, as stated by the National Institutes of Health.
  8. Sense of community: Participating in yoga classes fosters a sense of belonging and support, reducing feelings of loneliness. Even in one-on-one sessions, individuals feel acknowledged and valued as they contribute to the creation of a personalized yoga plan.
  9. Encourages self-care: Major organizations, such as the U.S. military and the National Institutes of Health, recognize and incorporate the scientific validation of yoga's value in healthcare. Numerous studies demonstrate its benefits in various areas, including arthritis, osteopenia, balance issues, oncology, women's health, chronic pain, and more.

These are just a few of the many advantages of practicing yoga. The best part is that you don't have to worry about arranging transportation to the venue, as Stretching Without Looking takes place over Zoom. During the session I attended on June 21, there were only two participants, including myself. Our instructor does an amazing job describing the poses, and her soothing voice truly immerses you in the experience. I hope this article encourages more people to get involved with Stretching Without Looking and discover the benefits of yoga for themselves.

Contact Meghan, TWP's Blind Low Vision Specialist, if you have any questions or would like the Zoom link, email her at mschmidt@thewholeperson.org.  Join The Whole Person’s Blind Low Vision Facebook Group to learn more about other events!