"Every year we take a group of deaf teenagers on a service trip someplace in the US. This year we are returning to the Bay Area and are looking for volunteer opportunities. We are really flexible and are willing to do just about anything that needs to be done."Flexible? How about some yoga?
So today we met with this wonderful group to teach them yoga, and put together gift bags for Yogapalooza. After some research about teaching yoga to hearing impaired, we learned about yoga teacher Lila Lolling who teaches the deaf community.
Although this was our first time working with such a group, the event was a success! Everyone had fun and we all learned something from the event.
One obstacle that deaf students face is knowing when to come out of a pose, especially while in savasana (relaxation pose) with their eyes closed or in poses where their head is down and it’s a challenge to see the teacher. During meditation, they often end up repeatedly opening their eyes to see if the teacher has given instructions to get up or to move into another pose. Lila has solved that problem by dimming the lights. She gives instructions before the students go into the pose, then dims the lights. When the lights are turned back up, they know it’s time to come out of the pose or end the meditaiton.Another problem, explains Lila, is there are no standardized signs for words such as yoga, meditation, consciousness or enlightenment. Even the spelling is not enough, because sign is a “conceptual language” with no written form. Lila is working with her deaf students to create a yoga vocabulary in ASL so that deaf people can learn about yoga in their own language.