HelloHealthy | Fall 2019 3 Photo by Shawn Overton, Blue Road Photography Yoga has helped Clarissa Hidalgo manage many of life’s ups and downs. And she wants to share the mind and body benefits of yoga with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to yoga. It doesn’t matter if you have a disability or a possibly debilitating medical condition. It doesn’t matter if you use a mobility aid, like a wheelchair. Everyone can do yoga in one way or another, Hidalgo says. Hidalgo, who teaches a weekly accessible yoga class at Dignity Health – Mercy Medical Center, is part of a growing accessible yoga movement. “We want to tell the world that yoga is for everyone,” she says. “Every single body type and ability is welcome in every way.” Something for everyone In the accessible yoga class, stretches and poses can be modified to fit each person’s needs. Hidalgo uses foam blocks and other supports to help people comfortably get into yoga stretches, if they want. “It is totally up to the individual,” she says. In this gentle environment, participants listen to their bodies and go at their own pace. In fact, practicing yoga can be as simple as focusing on your own breathing. “Breathing is the core essence of yoga,” Hidalgo explains. Yoga can have a number of health benefits, Hidalgo says. It can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. It may help with stress and depression. And yoga helps people to relax and unwind. “We often don’t take any time out for ourselves,” Hidalgo says. “Yoga allows us to do that.” It’s personal Clarissa Hidalgo has a personal connection to accessible yoga that goes beyond just teaching the classes. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when she was 19, in college, and struggling mentally and physically. After three years and a BA from UC Merced, she discovered yoga. She taught herself how to adapt a lot of the yoga poses to better accommodate her MS symptoms. “So when I found the accessible yoga movement, it was really great to see people who were already doing this,” she says. “I had been doing this by myself for so long.” YES, even you can do yoga! Accessible yoga classes welcome everyone, regardless of physical abilities Try it for free For more information on this free accessible yoga class, call 209.564.3669 . Bring a yoga mat and an optional twin blanket, and wear comfy clothing.