Yoga for All

Paloma Chavez

DC_Yoga-for-All_II.jpgFor a beginning yoga student, adjusting to the flow of a yoga class can have its challenges. Perhaps you sometimes lose your place when the teacher is moving quickly through a sun-salutation, or you have no idea what a downward dog pose looks like. Oh, and by the way – when do you get to breathe?!

Don’t give up, though.

If you persevere, the poses will eventually become easier to do and your breath will come into balance.

But consider how much more difficult it would be if we had a serious illness that resulted in the loss of a limb? That is exactly what Deena Quinn had to cope with when, at the age of ten, she was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma, which resulted in her lower leg having to be amputated.

Years after going through that devastating experience, Deena, heeding the advice of her friend and massage therapist Shannon Gillmarten, decided to try yoga as a new way to try and find balance, confidence and security, which she had not yet experienced through her regular weight training routines.

At the Heartsong Yoga Center in Massachusetts, she found a welcoming environment and an understanding instructor in yoga teacher Sheila Magalhaes. In order to place less strain on her residual limb, Deena decided to try practicing yoga without her prosthetic one. She admitted that

At first I felt uncomfortable, but once I got through the initial shock of going into a room without my prosthesis, I was able to relax.”

And even though she found the first class frustrating and challenging, Deena said she left

feeling great! Unlike the endorphin rush I was used to from my usual cardio/weights workout, I left with such a sense of peace.”

With the help and guidance of Sheila and Shannon, Deena was able to adapt various yoga poses to accommodate her needs, finding ways to utilize a chair, blocks assistance from a partner to ensure that she could have a thorough yoga practice.

By practicing her adapted yoga regularly, Deena began to see a marked improvement in her balance, flexibility and strength. As an added benefit, yoga helped Deena calm her mind and alleviate her feelings of anxiety.

Now, at the age of 30, Deena is a confident and self-assured woman who credits yoga with helping her deal with her trauma. And for others who are facing physical challenges and are looking for ways to help themselves, Deena has the following advice:

“…just do it! Take a big swallow and do it!”

For more information, check out Deena’s inspiration story.

[tags]Deena Quinn, bone cancer, osteosarcoma and yoga, Shannon Gillmarten, Sheila Magalhaes, yoga and trauma[/tags]

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