“He doesn’t fit the mold, which is fine,” is how U.S. News describes Ryan McGraw’s approach to yoga as a 30-year-old living with cerebral palsy. This is at once uplifting and depressing. What mold? Why has yoga reached the point of moldyness? No one likes molds, not even ones made of jell-o. But we are consistently inspired by stories like Ryan’s that remind us what we already know, when we’re not tangled up in yoga pants scandals and wanderlusting: yoga is for everyone, every body. Strong in its foundations, it is adaptable and malleable. Throw it in a blender or slather it on a piece of toast and eat it for breakfast, the yoga remains.
Ryan McGraw started practicing yoga as a teenager and he now teaches it in Chicago. We love what he has to say about how his practice has affected his life:
I think the main factor of yoga that’s affecting me—more now than ever—is in the mental aspect of my life. I’m more tied to myself and have a more positive outlook on life. Physically, having cerebral palsy, I need to keep active and keep the muscles healthy. In yoga, you really have to keep your body aligned, and I feel that has helped my flexibility, balance and coordination. And it’s also helped me become more conscious of my breath.
And he has some great advice for those thinking it’s “just for the thin, fit and athletically-inclined,” as the stereotype is described in the article.
Do not get discouraged by what we see in magazines; yoga can be inclusive to people with all abilities with the use of props. There are adaptations are out there, and adaptations don’t mean that you’re doing any less.
U.S. News is doing a series on the unlikely bunch, the outsiders, as it were, that are “changing the face of yoga.” We’d like to think that the body of yoga has always been (and will always be) about being an open practice for everyone, no matter what the face looks like, what “advanced” shape it contorts into or what it wears to yoga class.