Inclusive Participation in Yoga & Meditation
Roxanne Nelson teaching her virtual Yoga & Meditation class
In 2018, the Revive program was created through a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America. Revive, a wellness program for Holocaust Survivors, had a therapeutic curriculum focusing on helping seniors heal from past trauma. One of those programs included Yoga & Meditation with yoga instructor, Roxanne Nelson. The program practices “moving energy from the physical body to mental thoughts and feelings*” and focuses on establishing a connection with intention within the participant, as well as others.
When in-person classes went virtual earlier this year, KleinLife made sure to put Yoga & Meditation on their program calendar. Nelson, a certified yoga teacher since 2017, was thrilled to teach her senior students again. “Being able to give time and space to a community with such experiences and wisdom is what is so rewarding to me,” says Nelson.
Although the program initially was just for Holocaust Survivors, it was later opened to the public at large. The Low Vision group, a class ran by the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and held weekly at KleinLife prior to the pandemic, gravitated towards it since Nelson is very descriptive in her instruction. “It was great to hear Roxanne as she gently, but very clearly, described all of the wonderful poses and stretches,” mentions Marsha, a Low Vision participant. “Not only is the class accessible to blind people, but it’s also extremely accessible to people who might be calling in who are fully sighted. She is a treasure.”
“It’s important when using teaching language to be inclusive to everyone in the room,” Nelson adds. “Being quite specific about direction and shapes can be helpful, but encouraging students to notice what they feel and listen to what feels right for them is how I use my teaching skills.”
The program has grown from serving 13 to 26 seniors and the numbers continue to grow with each class. “During times where people are isolated, especially with a population that already feels unseen, it is important for us to find connection,” says Nelson. “A connection not just to each other, but also to ourselves.”
*as described by Roxanne Nelson, Yoga & Meditation instructor