Life had become pretty busy for me; a bit too busy as it happened. Then along came Covid19 and suddenly, we were all locked down. At first, I welcomed a bit of respite from the frenetic pace of everyday life and relished the opportunity to get out on my bike on deserted roads. However, the novelty of 24-7 social isolation soon wore thin, and then it seemed to me that I was living my own version of Groundhog Day. I was unable to get out on my bike as my shoulder injury was holding me back. I wasn’t even going into the supermarket as I was using Click & Collect, which was my only weekly trip out. Living alone, I felt very isolated and, at times, lonely. What I needed was an antidote to the poison seeping into me through my TV screen; an elixir to calm my worried mind and to banish my fears. I realised that maintaining my well-being was crucial.
Participating in the virtual adaptive sessions run by Access Adventures was the elixir I needed. I participated in adaptive yoga on the mat, led by Clare Williams, and Mindful Movement and Relaxation, led by Sara Owen.
I was already involved with Access Adventures and I knew Clare from sit-skiing in Colorado with Back-Up when I was fairly newly-injured (I have a spinal cord injury) and through activities with Access Adventures such as waterskiing, wakeboarding and kitesurfing. I’d done yoga with Clare on a couple of occasions before and I had always wanted her to put something online so that I could do yoga at home, since all of the yoga available to me locally is aimed at able-bodied people.
Clare has twenty years experience as a physiotherapist and in rehabilitation with the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and in the Complex Trauma Team at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (now Stanford Hall). She is passionate about the benefits of adaptive sport and has been an adaptive waterski instructor since 2005. Clare co-founded Access Adventures in 2015 with Jane Sowerby and Tim Farr. After supporting the delivery of yoga with complex trauma survivors, Clare went on an Adaptive Yoga Teacher Training course (run by Help for Heroes) in 2015 and qualified as a Sivananda yoga teacher in 2017.
Clare’s online yoga sessions have been very well received. She loves hearing how the sessions are helping people, both physically and psychologically. Personally, if I have to miss a week (which I dislike doing!) I can really tell the difference. After spending an hour focusing on my breath and movements, I feel both the immense physical benefits of stretching my body and holding the poses, and the calming effects of slowing down and deepening my breath. It is such a relief to get out of my wheelchair, change position and stretch out. Clare also runs virtual sessions in the chair for those who are unable or do not wish to transfer to the floor. It’s a totally mindful activity, which is great for boosting immunity and general well-being. Clare makes everyone feel welcome and included and is always able to adapt the sessions to meet people’s differing needs. The sessions have the added benefit of connecting a group of like-minded people.
The Mindful Movement & Relaxation sessions were led by Sara Owen. Sara is a yoga teacher and dance movement psychotherapist. She has a gentle, empathic approach. Her sessions are based on the belief that the mind and body are connected. Our emotional experiences are stored in our bodies and so, body-based practices offer a gentler way to connect with, express and process emotions. You can find out more about Sara at www.thecentredself.co.uk. Sara’s sessions involve free movement, which is incredibly liberating, following your breath, relaxation and meditation. Again, they are very mindful sessions as they transport you away from all of your worries and concerns and allow you to be ‘in the moment’ and return to your centred self.
After both the Adaptive Yoga and the Mindful Movement & Relaxation sessions, I feel far better equipped to face the emotional and psychological challenges of the day and I feel physically refreshed and invigorated. The sessions serve as a ‘top up’ to my mental well-being and I am always in a much better place after participating.
Thank you Access Adventures!