Understanding disability 101: Awareness and yoga to mitigate the social and physical burden

Disability awareness matters to everyone, even if you aren’t affected by it directly. Yes, you can make a difference. According to statistical studies, one out of every five individuals living in America suffers from some disability issues. These can be visual, hearing, or mental disabilities and decrease the quality of life for the affected individuals. Along with the physical limitations, there are various developmental disabilities, as well.

Disabilities and stereotype

Most of us are in the error when we stereotype all types of disabled individuals into one broad category. What we need to keep in mind is the fact that every individual is unique with his/her own sets of challenges and qualities. Well, most of the lucky individuals indeed believe that they can perform certain functions better and altogether live a better life. This is why understanding disability awareness is so crucial. 

The facts of the matter

About the disability facts, there are some astounding insights on offer. People under the age of 20 might suffer some form of disability or other due to various injuries and accidents, as well. Back injuries and various debilitating disorders are the root cause of various disabilities in several working-age adults among the populace.

So, we can see it is not always about the genetic and prevailing medical conditions of a particular family. There are other aspects of disabled individuals as well that categorizes them according to subtypes. Some cope and live with the disability after gaining the use of the limbs to some extent, whereas some cannot, even after years of therapy and medical care.

This is why it has become all the more imperative for everyone to understand what it is to live with some form of disability. It is with our care, understanding, and helping hand that we can assure a better quality of life for the less fortunate individuals among us. 

Why is disability awareness crucial?

Sadly, the biggest challenge faced by the disabled populace is not the disability itself but the people around them and their notions about the disability. Many individuals feel uncomfortable and fearful in the company of disabled individuals while commuting or at the workplace. This leads to limited interaction and avoidance between the disabled and the healthy populace.

But the truth is, the more these misconceptions and stereotypes are allowed to fester and grow, the harder it gets to construct a society with the fabric of unified living and equal rights. You might even have disabled individuals as friends, family members, relatives, and neighbors. And, everyone has the right to equal treatment irrespective of physical/mental disability. For the greater good, it is, therefore, extremely crucial to understand and be aware of disability affected individuals.

What does the law propose?

Several state and federal laws uphold the rights of disabled individuals. These include workplaces, transportation systems, and public venues that are made easily accessible for physically challenged persons. All the legislations have been put in place to avoid discrimination against the less fortunate populace. Still, the onus is on the world population to uphold the laws and guarantee equal treatment for everyone included.

Understanding disability is the first step towards awareness

Most of us often have to rush early in the morning to get to work on time. All you need to do is imagine yourself rushing through the morning chores with some form of disability. The job becomes exponentially harder, doesn’t it? Yes, you are still the same person for all intent and purpose, just that you are unable to perform at the same level as you were supposed to. 

By trying to put yourself into the shoes of a disabled person, you can understand what it is like to lead a normal life with some form of disability. It also allows you to realize that merely complying with the laws and legislations to stop the discrimination is not enough. Instead, it is imperative that you treat the affected individual as a human being to help them adjust and overcome, which will allow them to lead a meaningful and happy life.

Need help to relate to people with disabilities?

The primary objective is to keep in mind that disability affected individuals are human beings as well, and they too crave regular social interactions and have the same needs. Seeing a person just for his/her disability or just as a wheelchair is an error that requires weeding out from society. Disability awareness is all about relating to individuals with disabilities. It is about seeing their interests, needs, likes, dislikes, talents, and opinions.

Disability awareness events

If you are looking to educate yourself on disabilities, then keep in mind there are several disability awareness events. July 16th is the World Disability Day; the month of October is the Disability Awareness Month and the late May-early June week is celebrated as the Disability Awareness Week.  

Now that the social aspect is covered and done with, it is time for some tips that you can offer your disabled friend, family member, relative, or neighbor to alleviate the physical stress and improve on the existing condition.

Physical disability and yoga

Yoga is all about listening to the capabilities and the limits of the body and the adapting of poses. It is where one can learn true acceptance of what one is. You get to work with all that you possess inherently. This is one of the best ways to own your disability and overcome several personal challenges. 

The first thing you need to keep in mind about yoga and disability is the intensity of the session. The type of yoga you should go for depends specifically on the type of disability. Hatha yoga is one of the more common yoga practices that are both popular in the western world as well as easy to perform for individuals with disabilities owing to their slow and gentle form.

The next consideration is that of the instructor. You will need to adapt poses and perform the yoga in sequences with the proper order and posture. This is why the instructor is extremely crucial due to the valuable insights and the instructions they can provide as and when necessary. There is the added benefit of joining a community and meeting new people if you are working with a yoga therapy class. 

Here are some basic yoga postures and poses that you can go for all by yourself.

Cow posture

The cow pose is supposed to open up the front of the body. You need to start by holding on to the sides of the wheelchair. You can rest the hands on the thighs as well. Next, you need to raise your chin with continuous breathing while arching your back. Hold the pose while breathing in and out for a few seconds and rest.

Cat posture

The cat pose is all about stretching the back. The starting position is the same as the cow, except you need to round the upper body forward while exhaling. You will drop your chin into your chest while arching the back. Hold the pose for a few seconds. For the best results, you can combine the cow and the cat in alternating sequences.

Twist form

You start by putting the right hand on the left knee and the left arm around the back of the chair. You need to turn the upper body to look over the left shoulder. Hold the pose for a few breaths and repeat on the other side. 

The Side Stretches

For this pose, you need to start by placing one arm on the armrest of the chair. Next, you will lift the other arm over your head while inhaling. Try stretching the arm as far as possible while exhaling. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths. Repeat the stretching movement with the other side. Always return to the center position and rest between the reps. 

Forward Bend

Start by sitting up straight and stretch the spine while you inhale. Bend forward and down from the waist as you exhale and hold the chair for support. Breathe deep and gently for a couple of seconds and hold the pose. Sit up while inhaling.

The Advanced Bend

The advanced forward bend is quite similar to the forward bend with one difference. You will allow your hands to touch the floor instead of the chair while bending forward.

The Raised Hands

Here you need to raise your hands towards the ceiling as you inhale. Breathe deeply for a few breaths while holding the pose. As you exhale, lower your arms and return to resting position.

Eagle pose

The first step is to lift your arms as you inhale. Then as you exhale, you need to cross the arms at the elbows and make sure that the back of the hands is touching. Hold the position for a few deep breaths and return to rest.

About the relaxation

The relaxation is the final pose after you have concluded your session. Here you need to sit tall and relax the shoulders. Let the shoulders drop and close your eyes. Breathe easy and slow. 

Yoga can bring relief and make sure that you feel rejuvenated to get on with tackling life and the problems head-on despite your disability. All the best. 

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