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March 6, 2006

Bringing Yoga into the Deaf Community

From: Deaf Yoga - Mar 6, 2006

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Bringing Yoga into the Deaf Community
DVD and workshops in American Sign Language Offered

Austin, TX [March 6, 2006] – Yoga is now among the most popular choices for exercise in the U.S., with six percent of Americans practicing a regular yoga routine. Yet the 5,000-year-old practice hasn’t quite experienced the same popularity in the deaf community – and Lila Lolling is changing that. 

As a traditional Hatha yoga instructor, Lolling brings yoga to deaf people and signers through her workshops, retreats and new DVD. She’s established Deaf Yoga, a company dedicated to sharing the traditional teachings of yoga with people who sign.

Yoga, which means union, is known for its ability to strengthen, detoxify and rejuvenate a person’s mind, body and spirit. “For years, deaf people have been shut out of yoga classes and events because they’ve never been considered when establishing studio programs, national yoga retreats or even yoga teacher training courses,” said Lolling, who is hearing. She noted that while some yoga teacher training courses provide information on different types of accommodations, very few focus on teaching yoga to a deaf person. “There is often frustration when deaf people try to explore yoga and try to follow along with an instructor who knows little about how to communicate the yoga experience to a deaf person. It's my hope that through Deaf Yoga's programs, hearing instructors will learn how to enhance yoga for deaf people, and also that deaf individuals will be able to teach yoga classes.”

One such obstacle facing a deaf yoga student is during shavasana, where participants are asked to lie on their backs, close their eyes and listen to the teacher’s soothing instructions. Deaf participants often end up opening their eyes repeatedly to see if everyone else is still in their poses and still missing the teacher’s instructions. “What I do instead is I give instructions before they are to go into a pose, and then dim the lights. When the lights are turned back up, they know it’s time to come out of meditation or the yoga pose,” Lolling explained. “Simple adjustments like this make yoga accessible. Part of Deaf Yoga’s mission is to educate others about such accommodations. This awareness empowers the deaf community to participate in yoga events and classes.”

Yoga’s basic principles are introduced on the Deaf Yoga for Beginners DVD, produced by deaf-owned Davideo Productions. Yoga students are introduced to practical information on how to breathe properly, the history of yoga, energy systems and more.

The DVD, ideal for yoga beginners, also includes originally composed music by and is subtitled, according to a chuckling Lolling, “for the signing-impaired.”

“The goal is to make yoga accessible to deaf people and signers, so that they can take their home experience into a yoga studio,” she added. “Deaf Yoga for Beginners was created with the intention that someone hearing could invite a deaf friend over to practice yoga together, or vice versa.  It's also a way for deaf parents to practice yoga with their hearing children or for interpreters who want to learn basic yoga signs."

Deaf Yoga also offers a community forum on its web site at “The forum is really for everyone – deaf, hard of hearing, hearing, signers, and anyone who wants to get involved in the deaf and yoga communities,” Lolling said. “The forum is also a place for yoga teachers who have deaf students to post their events. I've received emails from as far away places as Germany, England, Australia, and France, all asking about events in their areas.  The forum provides a centralized place for everyone to come together. Plus, it’s a great place for yoga enthusiasts to share methods, ideas, and news.”

Deaf Yoga is generating quite a bit of publicity and interest, having been featured recently on Chicago’s ABC WLS-7 News and in the November 2005 issue of Yoga International. “I’m really trying to get the word out about how we need to have more yoga classes that include deaf people, because I’ve seen firsthand the impact of yoga upon deaf people,” Lolling said. “It’s such a great feeling being able to share what I love and know. I await the day I go to a yoga class and learn from someone who is deaf. That’ll be the day I feel my service has made a difference.”

The first national Deaf Yoga retreat will be held March 31-April 2 at Camp Lakodia in South Dakota.  Additional information on the DVD, retreat, and workshops is available at

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