Delhi hospital organises first-of-its-kind yoga on wheelchair
Delhi’s Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) organised a first-of-its-kind wheelchair yoga session that saw close to 20 participants.
“Yoga combines meditation, breath control, and body postures in order to aid mobility and body awareness. It is a practice that combines elements of physical fitness, mental awareness and spiritual awakening,” said Pragya Ghildial, senior yoga therapist, ISIC.
Ghidhiyal, the first female yoga therapist on wheelchair in India, is a peer counsellor and an athlete who has represented India in international Para athletics. She is also the recipient of the National Award 2016 for best sports person with disability in the women’s category.
“I personally believe specially-abled persons or people having undergone debilitating injuries or body paralysis should have equal opportunity and access to do yoga. As a matter of fact, wheelchair yoga is technically not different at all from any other form of yoga, rather it only refers to a set of poses you can do while being seated,” she says.
Ghidhiyal was passionate about yoga and even pursued a degree in the subject. After completing her course she was running a yoga studio in Delhi, until she met with a major road accident that left her lower body paralysed permanently. She was 22 years old.
“Few months after the accident, I realised that my wheelchair was actually my `will’ chair and learnt basic and advanced wheelchair skills, to make optimum use of my existing physical abilities. I started teaching meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises) to patients at ISIC. Yoga is still my passion. Earlier, I used my whole body for it, now I use half my body, but it still feels great,’’ she says.
Wheelchair yoga helps users maintain flexibility, posture and adds to the strength of their limbs, without putting too much strain on joints. It can be a great way to overcome depression as well, which many people experience after getting confined to the wheelchair.
“ISIC places special emphasis on rehabilitation and advance assistive technology to enable people with spinal and other orthopedic injuries lead independent and productive lives. We believe in equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive society that embraces humanity in all its diversity, and the yoga session conducted today was a small effort in that direction,” said Dr Chitra Kataria, head – rehabilitation.