Welcome to the accessible yoga Podcast where we explore how to make space for everyone in the yoga community.
Amber Karnes 12:23:32
This podcast is brought to you by the accessible yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Hi, I'm your host, Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are he and him. And I serve as the director of accessible yoga.
Amber Karnes 12:23:47
And I'm your co host, Amber Karnes, my pronouns are she and her, and I serve as president of the accessible yoga board of directors.
Everyone, this is Jivana Welcome back to the accessible yoga Podcast. I'm very excited today to have Matthew Sanford here. Hey, Matthew. Hey, hi, thank you so much for being here. I, I just want to say I don't even know how to start introducing you except that, well, maybe I'll tell a story to introduce you, which is that many years ago, I was I had just moved away from the Bay Area where I've been living for years, I moved down south to Southern California, and I met this incredible yoga teacher on a killing stat actually here in Santa Barbara. And she and I were talking about this idea of having an accessible yoga conference. And, and when I was talking to Ana, I said, you know, I've been trying to get a hold of Matthew Sanford for many years. And I always thought if, if he would be involved in something like this, it would really happen. And she literally, I said that before she told me, she said, Are you kidding? He's just like, I've literally been working with Matthew for many years. Yeah. And I just had just moved to Santa Barbara from working with you. In Minnesota, right. And, and I was just like, it was incredible. Like, I don't know what like moment, that was all about you. And I don't know if you even realize that it was just like, where she and I kind of came together with this idea that was really centered on you like, and bringing you out to Santa Barbara to be part of our first accessible yoga Conference, which ended up being in 2015. And I know you're really travel. And so then when we call you and you're like, sure, I love Santa Barbara, and you even went to school out here, right? Like, so excited and grateful. And it just felt like such a big moment in my life personally. And also for accessible yoga was really the beginning of our work in
Matthew Sanford 12:25:43
Jivana Oh, my God, what you've all accomplished with what you're doing. It's amazing. I'd like to, you know, tell everyone that's listening to say, oh, it's been easy for him. But I've never seen someone more dedicated to creating the awareness and the networking to help certain messages in the world. So I will always answer the call.
Thank you. Well, and I just want to say like, if people don't know you, they should they should know you, they should read your book, waking, a memoir of trauma and Transce- and transcendence, which is just such an incredible book, you're amazing writer. Hopefully, there's a second book coming, I'll just
Matthew Sanford 12:26:29
there are parts of the book that's finished on my computer that I think need to get out in the world that are descriptions of what accessible or not what adapted yoga is and what do yoga with a neurologic with neurological conditions and overt disabilities. I think, regardless of that book makes in the world. There's some descriptions that should. So
one thing that's amazing about your book, waking, by the way, is that you published it in it says 2006. And I think that, you know, I just want to go back a little bit to that time, because the yoga world has shifted, I really do see a change. Yeah, and I think there's so much more awareness of adaptive and accessible yoga now, but I remember those days back around then. And really, no one else was talking about it. You know, I mean, I was teaching kind of on my own just a few classes like doing what I could in San Francisco, but for you to like publish the book, then it just was huge. And I remember just seeing it and being amazed that you were sharing your story in that way.
Matthew Sanford 12:27:34
Yeah, it was funny. I mean, when I started practicing yoga in 1991, there really wasn't anything I just happen to get lucky to come across a remarkable teacher, Joe Zukovitch, who isn't from San Diego, California, who was willing to explore what it meant for us, Anna and pranayama to travel through my body. So the fundamental ethic of of what I believe is necessary when you're trying to share asana and pranayama with everybody especially with people with disabilities. You got to make them a partner in the in the grand experiment, because you can never have enough knowledge when it comes to this particular conditions. And not only is every one unique just by definition, like snowflakes, but it's like every you're never going to see All of your uncertainty as a teacher by acquiring more and more knowledge, what you're going to do is if you can make your student level the playing field before you, between you and just go and figure stuff out, that's how you learn. And that's how it goes. And so, like from the get go, I think that that one of the thing that truly needs to come under as a strong image, but come under fire, when you're teaching and trying to share yoga with everybody is that the lane, the plaintiff must be level. And that's something that typically isn't in the model, the pedagogical model of yoga classes, and it is a requirement for sharing yoga with divergent populations, because you don't get to know. Right, how goes. So? Yeah.
I love that. I love that you went right there, actually, because I just think that's, it seems like a theme in this work. It's about lifting up the student actually.
Matthew Sanford 12:29:27
In helping them. No, it's such an interesting balance, because it is the case then when it comes to like Asana, for example, no matter what student I come across, I probably do know some things that might be helpful for them. Right, so so it, but it's a balance between letting them know that this is an inquiry and an investigation that has to have have been led by curiosity and wonder, and also that they need to believe in their own experience and what they're actually feeling, right. Except what they're feeling doesn't necessarily, that's part of what can transform. That's the promise of yoga, right. And so you've got this kind of like empowerment, but also the person that maybe it's more yoga experience also knows that there's a bigger world out there, but don't know quite what it means for you, for your students world. And so it's this balance between empowering whatever's happening, and also creating the dynamic where, where you can explore new things together and discover new things. And so it's, it's this weird thing, sometimes I see. Adaptive yoga taught like, everything, like if you were teaching me if you told me everything I did was right on and perfect. Guess what, there's no room for me to actually explore and, and go to other places. And that's, I think, part of the promise of yoga that without pushing with a commitment to truthfulness, there are places for me to go. And it's not always going to be easy, but it doesn't have to be disempowering. So it's an interesting, I find it fascinating, actually, I
mean, to I, I mean, I think I'm always struggling with the language because I agree that it's, it kind of feels like empowerment, but I also think there's, it's more subtle than that. I mean, I look, I look back at like, if you look at the yoga teachings, which say that we all start with fullness, you know what I mean? Like, that's what I love about yoga is like, you begin with fullness. And so, to me, it's more like being a mirror or something or like trying to trying to find a way to show people that they're already okay, that they have the answers inside like to just to be a reflection. And that maybe that is empowering. I don't know, but I think it
Matthew Sanford 12:31:53
is, I think it's acknowledging, but also like, the image that I have for myself is that I'd rather sit shoulder to shoulder with the student rather than across from a student. Because the fire that we're warming our hands at, is actually both within us, and it's there. And it's not something we should be trying to find through our eyes. It's like it's a, it's right there. And so I kind of feel like a lot of the teachings of yoga have to be shared, they can't really be taught, even though the forms we have to teach is usually there's a teacher and student, but they're mostly like, Hey, did you feel that? Holy moly. That's awesome. Like that kind of wandering curiosity. leaves room for the student and also honors the student but also is good. It's good for the ongoing curiosity of the teacher. Yeah, I mean, so.
And also, I think what, what you're getting out to is that sitting shoulder to shoulder it's also healthier for the teacher because I think there's a danger. Yeah, there's a danger in the teacher putting themselves above the student feeling like they haven't fix you. Yeah,
Matthew Sanford 12:33:08
I think that's so important. Yeah, I mean, it's humbling and it's like a relief. For me, it's actually a relief that I can't know everything. I mean, if yoga is actually an infinite subject, right kind of where you are is exactly where there is no more meaning by taking three months. Steps in an infinite soup, right? There's like only what's happening, you know, cultivate what's happening, not necessarily think you're gonna ever put your arms around the whole ocean, right? And so to me, it's kind of a relief of going like, no, there's room here. And as long as we're keeping everybody safe and open, yoga will continually give. Right? It doesn't stop giving. Right? You just have to know how to slow down in here.
Yeah, I love that. I love that. What is it, you just said, yoga is infinite, you can't put your arms around the whole ocean.
Matthew Sanford 12:34:05
To You know, when you start to encounter, the immensity or the infinit infinity of yoga realization, it's like, you tend to want to honor it and get be humble and, and it kind of makes the practitioner feel unworthy or small. But again, that's another absurdity. If it's already infinite, you're almost dishonored by shrinking, you should stand up, take up space. That doesn't mean you're right. It means that they're not You're not doing any more honoring by being small. Right? Because your size in relationship to the ocean is not that big a deal. So I always want people like, Hey, stand up, you don't have to like be right all the time. But you should take up space here, you shouldn't motivate yourself by feeling you're continually unworthy, or that you're not fool, or the way I tend to think about it is that the emptiness and fullness are simultaneous. I'll never forget, a one instruction I heard from a teacher said in the centering part of class said, feel the room let the emptiness be full. Real simple life changed my life. When the space here is actually full. It's not actually empty. Right? And that's kind of what you're talking about, like the answers all the different languages are the answers within all that stuff. But actually, what seems empty is actually full. And that's part of its power is that it's both? Right? And that and that's like, whole, it depends on what I receive.
So as a teacher, though, how do you share that? So I mean, is do you have like, advice for teachers, then? Yeah, of course,
Matthew Sanford 12:36:04
what? Right, but But I think what's most important for people trying to facilitate this kind of awareness is, is to is to not be afraid of your uncertainty. Like that's itself and energy, right? I mean, it to your realization is essentially intangible, which I think the heart of it is right? Then don't be afraid of quietness, don't be afraid of, like sharing that awkward pause. Right, that that can happen in classes that, you know, in, in an inlet it, try to let the expanse be in the room with you. And your students, right, that it's doing the teaching. So it's kind of like knowing your own boundary in relationship to the infinite and one of the paradoxes that I think is true about, about principles of yoga being universal, is you actually need boundary to expand. Or to expand, you actually need boundary. And so you got to know, don't get small in relation to a big but have your boundary and let the things happen. In class, right? Like, you don't have to be in charge of everything. Because I got to know the line I always tell myself is you should trust the other gods. Right? It's kind of worked out if you just teach yoga, good things over time are gonna happen.
Yeah, you know, let's say more about boundaries, because that's probably it's one of my favorite. Yeah. Words. Yeah.
Matthew Sanford 12:37:52
Yeah. So you know, I focus when I'm trying to start thinking about particular poses, I think about four basic sensations. And this applies I know we're gonna get into wheelchairs here in a while, but And so, this applies to this too is that you need the sensation of grounding, a sensation of balance, which is a condition of safety. Grounding is is a condition of safety to right. You need some movement in in the intersection of movement in in and you need this expansion. But in order for me the one of the things I love about Austin is ABS As you practice it longer, you start to realize that your poses don't end at the terminus of your body. Right that as I sit up straight and tall, and I feel my sitting bones down, something goes up, that doesn't take, it's not required that that's a voluntary choice, it actually happens, right? And so but without the boundary of feeling my sitting bones, and my feet, my mind can't access the expansion. So like I do, I say weird things last summer, I've been saying literally, lately, is like, when you're outside, try to be like, at least 20 feet away from a tree and try to touch the tree with the center of your chest. And you know, you have to do you end up having to feel more of your own boundary for this to be transcendent, or the center of your chest to be transcended, because it's a set, it's your spine that can touch the tree through empty space. It is not your body, and it's not your reach. It's actually coming from a different orientation to your consciousness. And if, and so that boundary is required prior, I think reward structure. Right. So you need the sitting bones, and the movement, some sort of structure in order for what's in, in your body to extend into the world. So I think that, you know, for me, muscular action is just a form of boundary. It's a form of reference. Right? And and that, that mind can't really be here without that reference, which is part of the illusion of it. Right? What the illusions it's stuck to but but so I think that that you have to go in to go out, it turns out that going to the midline is the only way to extend out beyond your expand up. transcendently you have to go to the midline? Yeah, right. And that's happening in every yoga pose.
You're saying, to me, what you're talking about with the tree, though, is a little more because I think it's, it's about connecting with nature and beyond the body, beyond the limitations of our physical body, right, connecting with the natural world that we're that the body is a part of that the we're like here swimming in this world. And yet we feel separate, which is kind of an illusion anyway. And so when we can connect with something bigger, it can act, not only does it give us a sense of the prana, like you said, but I think it also can quiet the mind in that process. Right? Because one of the one of the teachings I've seen, I remember in the in the yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is that the way he says the way to practice often is to meditate on the infinite, you know, and it's like, that's what, like, when you said, connect with that tree? To me that feels infinite, you know, like that. Yeah,
Matthew Sanford 12:41:42
it's a structured way to allow it and the fact that we're infinitely connected. Yeah. Right. I mean, you also have to take seriously the living entity that is the tree. Right? I mean, it takes in order to actually like, and not feel so consciously weird about touching a tree from a from distance. Right? But but it's like that is? I mean, isn't that what the yogi's are trying to pass down anyway? Is it despite what you're seeing? It's actually all connected. So I'll say things like, on a practical level, like, the empty space is already perfectly balanced. It's whether you can realize the balance between what's within your and what's out of you, it's you don't have to do anything. It's already integrated. It's just not integrated when we try to control it. Like our minds can get confused when we think we're in charge of everything. Right? And it's like, well, actually, you know, so like, I'll say things in like in shavasana, where it'll be like, this is a balancing pose, and all the empty space within you already touches everything. It's already happened. Right? And that kind of like your full already, energy, that maybe how you language a truth like that, that you already have the answers within you. Those are all just attempts at different descriptions to reveal a basic thing right now, this is tremendous freedom for someone that lives with a disability. This isn't just an idea. It's an experience and especially someone that can no longer stand, let's say let's get him back to or needs eight, right? It's like, like the idea that somehow I'm supposed to keep up with with the temporary able bodied people or that I'm, if I do, I'm inspirational or, or that, you know, like, I get saddened when, if you don't know I get around in a wheelchair, I've been paralyzed for three years and I get sad when somebody's a yoga student adapted yoga student comes in and doesn't realize that they need to be also separate from their chair that you don't I mean, technologies, streamline wheelchairs and all the electric stuff that allows for different posture changes, that's all good helps people stand up. All these things are incredibly cool. But I never want to believe in in me that I just I want to I want to know, in my bones, I live on my wheelchair, not in it. It is a vehicle that makes me more mobile. But I shouldn't merge my legs into my wheels. Right that sometimes that's worse when I'm pushing up really steep ramp, I need to do that. Right, right. I want my legs and my perception, which if you take on my legs, I don't feel it, right. But I need to actually have the boundary between me and the wheelchair to I don't need to prove that I don't need a wheelchair. Because that's making the same mistake from a different direction.
Okay. But it's about your wholeness again, right? Is there anything like your wholeness, and you're using a device? But it's not part of you?
Matthew Sanford 12:45:12
Yeah, and part of what I think is so Yeah, exactly. And part of what I think is, so one of the things that I think is so powerful about Asana, and one of the ways that it, it teaches so much more than the movement is that it makes you distinguish different parts of your body. So that makes you go in work, that's a practice of pretty hard, right? Like, you have to go feel this feel that but when you differentiate between different points and distinguish yourself from your wheelchair, or make it 40 times harder yourself from your family of history. So Frank, I mean, that distinction, that boundary is part of the realization. So so so and part of the unity. So it's like, in order to when you ask a student to do something, even like say they're paralyzed. And even if they can't physically do it, when they go through the act of distinguishing different body parts. Something emerges from this distinguishing and delineating different parts, which is part of the, it's infinite. When you when you get when you step off the ladder from separating your foot from the top of your head, and you start doing it, your mind at first gets really engaged in trying to differentiate and all of a sudden, there's a connection and all of a sudden, you're more whole, exactly because you've realized parts on the way to the whole. So like shavasana giving body instructions now feel your back body on the floor, feel that feel your ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, right, and you like start to differentiate in order to let go. Right, like in order to let shavasana come into a hole. You go through the parts. I think āsana Does that and boundary is what Olson you know where you are in space, and then you like go, right. So I think that the differentiation, you know, the wheelchairs have gotten so great. But who many people I see are leaning back all the time. Because the technology and they don't want to fall, right? But even if you went through your life, always on the back edge of your sitting bones. You would lose your legs over time, connection, two legs, because you're never moving across the gravity center. Right and going and realizing that that is part of you're always back here. Right? But I'm leaning back now against my back of my wheelchair. I'm going to lose the delineation between where my spine is and where my legs are. Because I'm not changing gravity. Enough. Right? So I'm not saying you shouldn't tip back in an electric wheelchair I'm saying have a practice your your yoga practice might be coming up in over your sitting bones and making sure you're safe belted in or whatever, but you need to keep varying gravity or your mind will lose distinctions. And when you start losing that boundary you This gets all racy. Right? Your mind you're anxious when you lose?
Yeah, that's it right there. I mean, you really just, I think, touched on the, that is such the key to this boundary concept that keeps coming up here in this conversation, which is the mind takes over. And I think that's where we're like, what we're trying to do is really work on the mind, in a way, we're not fighting the mind, but kind of letting the mind you know, know, letting the mind be contained in a way, right, like to let it have its limitations as well. So it seems like that's part of what you're saying.
Matthew Sanford 12:49:03
And so having his hat know, its limitations have a boundary so it can receive, because, guess what minds socket receiving, think how hard it is to take in a compliment, to really taken in, unless you're an egomaniac, and you think you're the greatest thing ever, right? But it's like your body is your receiving organ. Right. And so minds need to just like, you need to set the condition so the mind doesn't have to be in charge. Right at all moments. And, and, and, and part of what I believe in why I am such a proponent of something like Asana doesn't have to be Asana. But like, is that that I want to set the conditions for my mind to receive from places that can't control. Right. And in order to do that, I actually need structure I need I need to know where my body is in space, like even when you go to balance your head over your neck, or include the space between your ear and your shoulders. And what's behind you in every yoga pose. All those cues are to is to get the mind to have to more input coming through your brain into your brain that you pay attention to it. What I didn't know about how important the spaces between your shoulders and your ear. And guess what I'm never going to do headstand upside down. But now I realize that this space and a lack of compression and if you do the headstand arms, and you put them up like the space of your the length in your humerus bone and the length in your neck. Actually feed your whole body. I got to figure that out without going upside down and crunching my neck. Right? I mean, so. But it's all possible if you start feeling your way. Instead of tasking your mind. So for me, Austin has been so essential to help me feel my way into more truth. Not tasking more truth to my mind. Because then I don't know about you, when I'm more in my head, the world seems more hopeless. In order to make changes, you have to be in your mind. Right, but
I don't know. I don't know if that's true. I think you can make change through feelings. Yes. And yeah, and caring. Yeah, totally. But I agree with you, it's definitely hopeless. When you're in your mind, I mean, that that's, that's what yoga is all about, right? Like getting out of your head. And connecting in your heart, or spirit or whatever you want to call it. I mean, that's what we're trying to do here.
Matthew Sanford 12:51:55
So there's something about whatever I'm very in lately, the last couple years watching how so many different descriptions are converging on the same underlying experience, right. So call your heart call it your soul call it caught the empty space in the center of your chest, just know that it's full, not empty. Right, like, like, all the different language is converging.
Yeah. It's simple. In the Vedas, I think it's there's a seed in the center of your heart. Like it's like a tiny little, you know, the tiniest little
Matthew Sanford 12:52:34
to get that right. Yeah, I gotta feel my city most. I got to feel my feet, right like or it becomes more tangible to my mind, when I put structure to let that in order for me to truly inflate the empty space or expand the empty space in the center of my chest and maybe touch a tree actually the boundary of where I am in space. So I can let in the infinite without. I'm disassociated
without disassociating Okay, so that's, so that's the benefit of boundaries, because I think we've been talking about it without really saying how it works. So why boundaries work? It's like, it actually limits the mind. Maybe it keeps the mind present. It does something to the mind so it doesn't go into like bad places.
Matthew Sanford 12:53:27
Yeah. I mean, so yeah, I think that, that that the boundary, the the, in order for something to expand without disassociating you need grounding in boundary. Yeah. In the mind will disassociate when left to its own devices, right,
I sometimes think of non attachment as boundaries, you know, it's like, yeah, I think non attachment it's such a vague concept. And I think it's really just about presence, you know. And, like knowing where I am right now. I don't know,
Matthew Sanford 12:54:11
I, we're in that language that place where language fails. Yeah. But like, I think of what's not here. And less tangible, is actually an energy source. Right. And so, non attachment opens you to more of the energy of the universe. And it's actually here waiting for you. that not everything has to have, right, so you're trying to create the conditions where the energy, like I like to say things like your breathing for the spaces that you can't control, and can't feel as much as the ones you can feel and can control. Right, so the magic thing about Brett is it touches both worlds. It's like, it's the bridge. Right? And and, and I think that stuff like this getting back to like getting back to the wheelchairs, like when you're practicing in a wheelchair, or you're helping someone practice yoga in a wheelchair, it's so important for you to help them and help yourself feel connected at your base. So if you watch people that haven't aren't Yogi's, and, and live with disability, often the medical model has really not empowered them to, to feel their feet. Or you'll see a lot of people in wheelchairs lose connection to their feet. Okay, because it hasn't been realized fully that like, even if you were to go through your whole day, every time you sat in a chair and you had one of your feet hanging the whole time. That's the state you see a lot of people in wheelchairs that they're not utilizing the foot pedals in a way that give the mind boundary and reference. So even like, like helping someone figure out the sensation of grounding, even though in some of the thing about living in a wheelchair, that's interesting, and hard and an amazing teacher, right, is that there's less direct contact with the floor with the earth. And that's a real significant part of the injury, whatever the condition is, is that the connection to the earth is actually is has to be realized differently. Yeah. Right. And, and it's possible.
I see that a lot too. Like there's like, I know, people who are struggling with walking, focus on what's on the lifting. You know what I mean? Like, there's this, it's just like, there's no weight, there's no stability,
Matthew Sanford 12:56:58
the lift is actually more controllable at first. So a great example is I haven't a student that, you know, I got certain students that taught me things that are for a lifetime, and one of them is is amazing yoga names mean, Sammy, and she's kind of like, slick a C for quadriplegic, and her voice is really quiet. And when she first started coming to me, she'd have a hard time because she's like, had a trach and, you know, all these things and, and, you know, she couldn't move her body at all, she you know, basically lift or her elbows up a little bit. And she was having trouble with breath and it was like, you know, and enter scaling muscles are neck muscles were super developed because he was fighting. That is kind of amazing. She wasn't on a trick, right, you know, was like, you know, all the time and, and what I realized in trying to help her was that her diaphragm needed something tangible underneath it. That like, every time she was trying to take a breath, she was like, it'd be like you stepping up a curb that you thought was only three inches and it was six. Right? So in that that freefall, right? She was trying to find a pivot point. The stock didn't start her inhalation. You know what helped her breath pushing on her knees. So she could get a sense of direction. So the in home ation could be part of the world before she had to strain to get the lift, right. And so for her, it was about creating more base underneath the beginning of her inhalation, which nothing in the medical model was ready to train and teach her. And that's why it's so important that yoga is taught to people that are in wheelchairs, because over time, that technology will make them merge with their wheelchair, they'll lose track of the Earth, right, and not just as an idea as a frickin energy. Right? And that, and that you can spread in order to receive. Usually, when someone is in a wheelchair, trying to keep up with their lives, they brace up, they get more gripped, and try to like keep up with the world, right? And that isn't sustainable. So the importance of teaching grounding or experiencing grounding, when you are in a wheelchair, a lot of the time, that value cannot be underestimated. But I had to teach Sammy how to feel space in her base, she doesn't get to push against the Earth. Right? She does not get that. I mean, just try to take that in for a second like I when I when I first realized that she never gets the push off of the earth. Right? Like, wait, how can I bring the earth to her mind? And the answer was by pushing on her knees, and putting sandbags on her feet, and letting her rock back and forth, right where she could never do that on a roll. Right. And it was like that level of it was like, Wait, she's not getting nourishment. She's only getting thin air, where you and I would be getting grounding. And like, so teaching her to breathe with her whole body is actually part of it. And same with someone with ALS, you gotta teach him to feel the breath, the quality of their breath, with their whole body, not just with how much they're taking in, how much inhalation how much exhalation because they're losing that battle right over time. So you got to show them how to get quality. And the way that the body breathes with momentum and movement to support the diaphragm minutes a whole different way of thinking and people that live in wheelchairs aren't getting that underlying base. That can actually just be a simple practice. It can be right
grounding of have
Matthew Sanford 13:01:13
to realize that they need it though. Right, that it's going to actually give them more energy over time. But yeah, so Bradley's wheelchairs, but damn, they're probably
they're problematic. Yeah, it's true. It's like the solution sometimes create more problems. Often there's
Matthew Sanford 13:01:36
the solutions are coming from people that aren't directly living the experience. So like an engineer, looks at me and wants to help me stand up. Right. And that is great. It's part of my personhood, thought, but I don't mind looking up at people anymore. I've been doing it a long time, right. But but that's what the engineer can do is figure out a very cool wheelchair. And that doesn't mean I don't love cool wheelchairs. But simultaneously, I need a practice that makes me be in my body while I sit in the wheelchair. Like they're not either or the technological breakthroughs in wheelchairs are invaluable, right? But keep me a boundary between me and my body, between me and my wheelchair to my body, my wheelchair, because if not, things go into a mess, though. The water gets too stagnant. And that is itself a problem.
It seems like that it's like the medical model, like you said, trying to fix, you know, trying to come from outside and
Matthew Sanford 13:02:44
from a really good place that engineer really is trying to improve the quality of my life.
But I think in yoga, we do that too. So I think a lot of yoga teachers think that to teach this way. They're trying to fix people or help people. And I think it's it's hard to know our role as a yoga teacher, you know, and where we fit in. But I think I mean, from what you're sharing today, it's like, it's quite, it's much more basic and simple. You know, to try to just share some basic experiences of yoga with people to make it as accessible as
Matthew Sanford 13:03:21
possible shoulder it's not that different. Because I sit in a wheelchair and you stand, the principles are our, it just kind of looks different. So in a way, you got to develop your transcendent vision of what an Asana could be, without you patronizing my posts. Exactly right, helped me bring rigor, because without effort and without rigor, I'm just hanging out. Right. And that's sometimes good to be in with a group of people. You know, it's good, I have another student that has pretty bad CP, and he's against on an electric wheelchair, and he was part of our, this is such a mind blowing thing for me. Right, his bodies can because CPAP is asymmetrical firing. And he was in a workshop that we did called body mind story. And, and where we're having kind of a yoga piece, we're learning working on the secrets and paradoxes of storytelling and, and, and having that effect, you know, how energy comes out of your spine into a story and all that stuff. And, and at the end of the few days, couple of days, he says something that completely was unexpected. He said, You know, this is so sad. But he said, and wonderful. He said, Gosh, you know, thank you for letting me be in the room with all of you. I never get to learn in the, enough in the presence of people who don't live with disability. And I was like, I don't get access to this world. I got to just be part of the stream. No, it was like, Are you kidding me? How did the How did his how he looks in his wheelchair separate him? From from the right. And it's like, it's because we're afraid of him. And we, you know, so we don't quite listen. And we think we listen, but we don't know we don't. And that's part of what I that, I think is when when you live in, in a wheelchair. And when you're trying to help someone figure it out. It's like, you don't know as a teacher what to do is like, I think we go back to how we started in this conversation. Sits shoulder to shoulder Yeah, let let it let lead with wonder. And the miraculous pneus of the subject, sits shoulder to shoulder and figure it out. And the good thing is, it enriches both the teacher and the student.
Right? It just means being humble to as a teacher, it's like just be be human and say, I don't know, or, you know, what do you think? How does that feel? What would it be better? You know, like, it's, I think it's basic human humanity, like, your story you use all the time, humanity, but also humility, you know, for us, instead of coming in as the expert, again, being above people it just just be be on the same level. And, and yeah, I love what you said, Don't be afraid, like, Don't be afraid.
Matthew Sanford 13:06:37
Yeah, that's just been seen, especially with disability, disability and neurological deficit is threatening to the temporary able bodied world, because it's their story too. So it's like, you know, everyone's on the arc of disability. Everybody on the continuum, and it's like, so it's one of those things that people, this student, I'm thinking, Chris, that doesn't get seen and doesn't get to be with people. It's because they people don't just be there. Yeah. He's actually really quite easy to be around. One of the times he said, after you started coming to our adaptive yoga class, he said, out of noise and while I come here, because just a few minutes in every class, I get to feel human. It's like holy crimes. Like it won't be disenfranchised. Yeah, right, that he doesn't even feel in collective groups of diversity of ability, that he's actually in the room. Like, what the hell that that we can deal with that so we can get better at right which is, I think, is what you're doing with your with accessible yoga. It's like, there's some things we can correct pretty easily. Helping crispy in the room. It's not that hard.
Doesn't take a lot of training. It doesn't take a lot of skill.
Matthew Sanford 13:08:06
Charlie Palmer says something incredible that I just love it. I think it's literal and metaphorical. You need to learn to listen someone into speech. And that's what the best thing you can do for a yoga student if you're trying to teach someone over ability is listen to them and listen them into expression. Right, like so they can start to feel their body again. And not just judging. So it's a good one. Yeah. Wow. All right. Dang, we could.
I know I could talk to you forever. Thank you so much. Thanks for your time and wisdom and sharing with us. Yeah,
Matthew Sanford 13:08:50
I really appreciate it. I'm keeping on Jivana Okay, crazy world out there.
You too. All right. Thanks, Matthew. Take care. Thanks for joining us for the accessible yoga podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you.
Amber Karnes 13:09:07
Please check out our website accessible yoga.org. To find out more about our upcoming programs including our annual accessible yoga conference. At our website. You can also learn more about how to become an accessible yoga ambassador and support the work that we're doing in the world.
Please subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review wherever you listen. We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Amber Karnes 13:09:26
You can also submit a question or suggest a topic or potential guests you'd like us to interview at accessible yoga.org See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai