On any given Saturday morning, you’ll find a committed group of Craig Hospital grads, community members, and volunteers practicing the ancient art of yoga in the PEAK Center gym.
The Adaptive Yoga program was started in 2012 by Ken Santistevan, a Craig graduate who was a certified yoga teacher before sustaining a brain injury in a scooter accident in 2011. Santistevan was encouraged to volunteer with a non-profit organization as part of his community reintegration program in preparation for returning to work. He chose to volunteer with the PEAK Center, and worked with center staff to start these classes.
“Practicing yoga helped me so much with my own therapy, and there are so many benefits that come through it,” he says. “I really felt it was my purpose to share these benefits with others who feel like they can’t do these type of physical activities.”
The class started with one or two regular attendees, and has now grown to over nine students who attend along with the caregivers. Volunteers from the Denver yoga community assist with the class. During the one-hour session, the students practice gentle poses and stretches along with guided imagery. According to their comfort level, the students get out of their wheelchairs to practice on the mats.
Santistevan says there are physical as well as mental benefits for participants. “For individuals who have lost body movement, yoga helps keep their muscles and tendons from shortening—if they can’t move on their own, we’ll move their bodies for them,” he says.
In the class, he also encourages the students to let go of their tendency towards self-judgment. “So much in their life is about being frustrated, about not being able to do things,” he says. “I encourage them to be light on themselves, to not judge themselves, and to celebrate the progress they are seeing.”
Interested in participating? Join Ken and the other PEAK Center yogis every Saturday morning at 10am through March. Classes are open to any individuals with a neurological disability and their families/care takers. For questions and to complete a health form, please contact 303-789-8325 or email Julie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cristin (email@example.com).