Lending a helping hand
Mikaela Hudson is a student at the University of British Columbia studying Global Health and Social Justice who is looking to enrich the lives of others and wanting to make a difference. She has been able to reach both goals by volunteering with the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia (CPABC).
My goal is to become a yoga therapist, with the intention of drawing on Eastern and Western bodies of knowledge to help individuals with a range of physical and cognitive challenges…” – Mikaela Hudson
Health has always been a major interest to her so she felt naturally inclined to find ways to contribute to local health movements and give back to the community which has always supported her. In addition, she has a strong interest in yoga since she took her first yoga class as a youngster, believing it can help heal the body. She has practiced multiple forms of yoga throughout her life and is currently deepening her understanding of it as a therapeutic practice.
“My goal is to become a yoga therapist, with the intention of drawing on Eastern and Western bodies of knowledge to help individuals with a range of physical and cognitive challenges,” she says. “Volunteering with the Adapted Yoga program at the CP Association presented itself as amazing way to merge my interests in yoga and global health.”
Hudson didn’t know a lot about cerebral palsy before her volunteer placement, but started doing research about CP and potential health benefits of yoga for individuals with CP. She learned a lot about the condition on her own, through working with the students, and the yoga therapist in the adapted yoga class. She works as an adapted yoga assistant during the class that runs on Tuesday evenings.
Hudson feels that it is immensely important to provide programs like this for the community. “Based on my conversations with participants and what I have observed, the Adapted Yoga classes provide a safe, supportive space in which individuals can explore their bodies, breath, and minds in a guided and meaningful way,” says the Vancouver resident.
…the Adapted Yoga classes provide a safe, supportive space in which individuals can explore their bodies, breath, and minds in a guided and meaningful way.”
Her role as an adapted yoga assistant includes helping set up the room with chairs, bolsters, blocks, straps and other props in addition to assisting the students in performing the asanas, or poses, safely and comfortably. Hudson takes direction from yoga teacher Maggie Reagh, who has extensive experience working with people with mobility challenges. She has been working with the organization in a volunteer capacity for a couple months and feels it is a good fit. “Volunteering with Adapted Yoga has become one of the highlights of my week,” she says.
The UBC student stated that she feels the class helps individuals relax through cultivating presence and connecting with the breath, which then in turn helps them tune into their bodies and work through areas of imbalance to bring their entire body-mind system into greater harmony and alignment.
This class brings yoga to the individual, modifying the poses and progressions according to the individual’s needs.
Furthermore, she feels that yoga brings a lot of joy and happiness. Participants have mentioned that this class is particularly special as it brings yoga to the individual, modifying the poses and progressions according to the individual’s needs. “They say that this is very different from a typical yoga class, which requires the individual to conform to specific poses and sequences that may not be appropriate, feasible, or safe,” says Hudson.
She feels that the CPABC is taking a leadership role by offering this specialized program. “The fact that they are providing programs such as Adapted Yoga demonstrates that they are leading the way with bringing innovative therapeutic approaches and programming to their clients, which they should be very proud of! In my mind, they are setting an excellent example for other organizations by providing such a high standard of care.”
Hudson hopes for more community awareness about the benefits of the program, since she believes it’s a fantastic opportunity for people with disabilities to become active. “I hope that class attendance will increase during the next session, as it is a truly amazing experience and I hate to think that people who could enjoy it are missing out,” she says.
Hudson didn’t know anybody with cerebral palsy before her time at the Association, but now knows many. “I think that people with CP are underrepresented in the media and perhaps even in public space, which is not socially just,” she says. “I think that it will be important to increase the visibility of people with CP, particularly through providing spaces for them to share their own experiences and perspectives, in order to work towards greater social and health equity.”
…it [is] important to increase the visibility of people with CP, particularly through providing spaces for them to share their own experiences and perspectives, in order to work towards greater social and health equity.”
Hudson wants to have a real impact on the people she works with. She prides herself on following the guiding principles of yoga to instill positive energy, compassion, and generosity and hopes to spread positive vibes and good karma. Through her work at the Association she is doing just that. She describes herself as outgoing, caring, curious, adventurous, motivated, intuitive, and loyal.
However, it is not only the participants that are learning, she is learning day by day. “I think that I may learn more – and receive more – from working with the individuals in the Adapted Yoga program than I am able to teach or give them. For this I am incredibly grateful.”
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