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January 27, 2006

Yoga teacher caters to deaf

From: - IL, USA - Jan 27, 2006

By Karen Meyer

January 27, 2006 - Yoga is recognized for its relaxing and healing properties. It is an art that anyone can practice regardless of their age and disability. A former Chicago-area sign language interpreter is teaching yoga to people who are deaf.

After years of doing yoga, Lila Lolling realized how difficult it is for deaf people to feel the benefits of yoga. So she started a program called deaf yoga.
Two weeks ago, Lolling came back to Chicago to teach some yoga classes.

"I teach a style called Sivananda, Hatha yoga which is a really traditional from India," Lolling said.

Lila is currently living in Austin, Texas, and has been traveling around teaching deaf yoga.

"It's focused for the deaf community, but it's open to everyone, so it doesn't matter if a person is hearing, hard of hearing or deaf, but basically we use visual cues instead of audio cues and use sign language in order to share the teaching of yoga," said Lolling.

One of the techniques used in deaf yoga is dim lights.

"I actually utilize it even in the hearing classes to dim the lights so that when they're in a yoga pose to close their eyes and they can, the lights go off, and then when I want their attention the lights simply come back on and it's a wonderful technique. The hearing people even find it really satisfying and relaxing 'cause it allows them to kind of find peace in the silence a little bit more," Lolling said.

Recently, Lila developed a DVD called Deaf Yoga for Beginners.

"It's a 60 minute yoga class. It's done in sign language. It has subtitles and music for the signing-impaired, and so it allows everyone to kind of participate in yoga together."

Yoga classes adapted for deaf people are rare. Lila hopes to change this.

"To help encourage other yoga studios to establish deaf yoga classes in their area, really just to open the doors for the deaf community, because hearing people can benefit just the same as deaf people by participating in something new," said Lolling.

Carey Segal is one of the deaf people participating in Lila's class. He says having an instructor that signs makes a difference.

"You can follow from the beginning to the end," Segal said.

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