“It’s important to connect with yourself and check in by focusing on your breath and body”.
To coincide with the upcoming release of a new set of videos focusing on floor-based yoga for beginners on Metro Blind Sport’s website, Claire Miller, a highly qualified fitness and yoga teacher, from Ruislip talks to us about her journey into yoga and physical activity, helping others and coping with sight loss as a vision impaired person.
In light of COVID-19 restrictions and to support us in creating more online activity, Claire has done a great job in developing accessible chair yoga sessions through a series of four short videos.
- Chair Yoga Link: https://blindsport.uk/ChairYoga
With Claire’s clear and descriptive instructions, the videos show how to loosen and stretch tight muscles, reduce stress and improve circulation.
A Yoga Journey with Claire Miller!
Discussing her own challenge with sight loss and overcoming the adversity of it for nearly four years now, Claire spoke openly about the undiagnosed deterioration of her right optic nerve, undergoing chemotherapy to help save the existing sight alongside managing the progression of cataracts in her left eye.
A self-described gym bunny, aerobics and Pilates enthusiast, Claire found her true passion in advanced yoga sessions.
When asked about what Claire enjoys about teaching yoga she said: “It’s the overall feeling you can give people. They start by thinking they cannot do it (yoga) or they come to a class with the whole world on their shoulders – then after completing the class you can see the positive impact it has had on them. That’s the case with any type of yoga really, you always find something calming about it and the classes bring you back to a centre.”
With over 530 hours of yoga training, Claire has established herself as a qualified yoga and fitness teacher. She explained: “You start with a 200-hour training mark which I completed in Bali. For some they stay at that level, but I have completed advanced training so I can teach advanced yoga sessions!”
Claire began her journey supporting blind and partially sighted people with another charity, Blind Aid, where she started off by covering a yoga class. It all took off from there. She said: “I found it inspiring to work with people with limited vision or no vision and see their progression and ability”.
Claire highlights the importance of audio descriptive feedback in her classes, albeit with a notable exception to a classic mishap. She explains: “I remember teaching one of my first classes in Peckham and I said to everyone, ‘settle your body and close your eyes’ with one participant responding, ‘I don’t need to Claire, I’m blind!’
The good-natured response created a laughter among the group who accepted the perceptual assumptions we all make innocently in similar circumstances.”
A notable project in which Claire was recently involved is ‘Yoga for Cancer’. She highlights the need to adapt sessions for people with varying levels of medical issues and requirements. She said: “We learnt about the types of treatments and experiences people are going through, how to approach people who were managing a terminal illness and how to support them with yoga through that journey”.
Shifting to online delivery, Claire has been working with Metro Blind Sport to deliver the VI yoga sessions and emphasised the value of getting involved. She stressed: “It’s important to connect with yourself and check in by focusing on your breath and body. Nothing is out of reach with these yoga sessions, they make you feel calmer and more grateful”.
Looking to the future, Claire is excited to get back into live classes, hopefully delivering Metro sessions soon!
Audio Described Breathwork Practice
Breathwork Practice video below
Chair yoga Sessions
Why not try Claire’s accessible and stress-reducing chair yoga for yourself?
- Claire’s Chair Yoga on Youtube Link: https://blindsport.uk/ChairYoga
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