Adaptive yoga: interview with Suzanne Galfredi

Adaptive yoga: interview with Suzanne Galfredi

Is it possible to use yoga as an aid in case of deep trauma or disability? And with what objectives? Suzanne Galfredi, a teacher “at the service” of yoga accessible to all, answers us.


Suzanne, what is the path that led you to become an adaptive yoga teacher

In 2002, my partner suffered a stroke which left him hemiplegic and aphasic.

During the long rehabilitation process we met exceptional therapists, passionate about their work and endowed with incredible humanity, but due to the way it is structured and the time allowed, rehabilitation could not help us give meaning to our new life : I include myself among those who would have benefited from help, as disability and trauma involve all close people in the change .

Matthew Sanford , in his book “ WAKING: a Memoir of
Trauma and Transcendence
”, Compares the healing process in a broad sense to the moment we enter a dark room: initially there seems to be nothing but darkness, but if we give the eyes time to get used to it, we slowly return to see .
It will be different from the light we were used to before but we can find a way and new possibilities in that space. However, it is necessary to grant time and care to that process, and this is often not possible in a canonical rehabilitation process.

When we got home I thought I could find that help by studying different approaches and acquiring new tools. I became a shiatsu operator and during the various trainings I followed I found Qi gong and loYoga .

Ten years later, I chose “Yoga and the central nervous system” and “Yoga and disabilities” as themes for the papers  to be produced during the teacher training done with Solo Yoga , and,  during my research, I met Matthew Sanford and the his adaptive Yoga method
In 2013 I left for my first seminar with him , in London, followed by many others, also in the United States.

Why did you choose to explore Matthew Sanford’s work in detail?

The vision of Yoga that Matthew proposes was for me entirely new , and unique, and it was the first time that I experienced the practice in these terms.

The of him is a teaching that starts from listening and exploring positions, in search of sensations and principles that do not depend on muscular action and are therefore universal and can be shared with anyone , regardless of physical conditions and health.

It is about sensations (such as grounding , expansion , balance , rhythm) that are part of our human being, they help us to “go home” in our body and in the world, and that have profoundly changed the way I practice and teach all my students.

Who Can Benefit From Adaptive Yoga Practice?

We all live with some kind of wound , we struggle to stay in the present and feel coherence between mind and body, between everyday life and what we dream for ourselves and for the world.

This type of Yoga affects us all, teachers , caregivers, social health workers, people with disabilities, traumas, who have suffered losses or find it difficult to feel whole.

It is a practice that welcomes us as we are and helps us to find ourselves in our humanity , to overcome the feeling of separation and loneliness, to go home and live more fully in our body and in the world.

What benefits does adaptive yoga focus on to heal inner wounds commonly referred to as trauma?

The benefits of Yoga are many, and they affect all levels of our being .

Yoga makes us more open, strong and flexible, in every sense. It allows us to feel that we are part of the world in its own right , that we are whole as we are, that we are connected – mind, body and soul, but also to the people around us and the rest of the universe – that we are human beings.

If we think about the different forms of disability, including the invisible ones and those that derive from the aging process and that therefore sooner or later will probably affect us all, the basic sensations I was talking about – grounding, expansion, balance, rhythm – are the ones that go lost first.

Finding them gives us back that possibility of feeling and living more fully and allows us to become a little child in the relationship with our body.

We also think only of the opportunity to feel contact with the earth, to open our arms on a sunny day, to swing on a swing …

How is adaptive yoga different from traditional yoga?

Those who have practiced yoga for a long time know that through the repetition of the positions one comes to an understanding of what those positions reveal.

We can define this modality as a process that moves from the outside , from the physical realization of the positions, towards the inside. The yoga we propose moves in the opposite direction, from the inside and from the sensations to the outside : it looks for ways to reveal the internal sensations and then activate the physical body, training at the same time the attention and awareness of what happens, the presence throughout the body and the memory of how those sensations travel through the body.

Training memory and internal awareness is importantespecially when our students cannot repeat the positions independently or cannot attend lessons regularly.

Are there any representative stories of the benefits of adaptive yoga?

The students of Mind Body Solutions (the association founded by Matthew Sanford), who have been practicing for many years, summarize very well what adaptive yoga can do.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours