Yogabilitation is a calming and gentle yoga practice that is ideal for anyone with physical injuries or disabilities, people who are new to the practice, or even experienced yoga practitioners who are just looking to unwind after a long day. Trained as both a physical therapist and a yoga instructor, Samantha Fulton teaches at the Center for Physical Therapy (2 Delavergne Avenue, Wappingers Falls) and at the Shambhala Yoga Center (2096 New Hackensack Road, Poughkeepsie).
The classes are focused largely on physical therapy, but can vary according to the needs and abilities of the class. Some center on slight movements, working on alignment and finding a sense of stability in the poses, whereas others have more of a standard “yoga class” feel.
The classes are very personalized. If students are currently in physical therapy, Samantha takes that into consideration, making sure to speak with students and their physical therapists about their problems and the work they are doing. If students are not currently in physical therapy, Samantha has students fill out forms about themselves and becomes familiar with their aches and pains before starting any physical work.
The classes at the Center for Physical Therapy are conducted in a small multipurpose room. Though not an ideal space, it is comfortable and warm. As the number of attendees is growing, the group is looking for a better suited space. The atmosphere is greatly improved with calming music, low lighting, and soft colors, with a mirror at the front of the room that can be helpful for self-correction. All mats and props are provided, so the student need only worry about bringing themselves.
The class that I attended started by bringing attention to the mind and to the breath, both of which are absolutely necessary for an effective yoga practice. An element of spirituality was introduced, but not pushed, simply asking students to consider the intent and effect of their practice. The poses focused on alignment rather than on deepening or strengthening positions, avoiding pain or soreness in the body. Experienced in other forms of yoga as well, Samantha can provide guidance for those looking for a more intense practice, but generally sticks to gentle work in class. Overall, I was impressed with her focus on correct breathing, mindfulness, and alignment throughout the entire class.
I left Samantha’s class with a great sense of ease and relaxation. Even though I had spent the whole day relaxing at home before going to the class, I shed a lot of tension that I didn’t even realize I had. Samantha came by to each of the students and gently worked out any tension from the head and neck during shavasana, or the “corpse” posture traditionally done at the end of a yoga practice. This simple human touch can make the difference between a good class and a great class, and is a big factor for me when evaluating a yoga class.
Some of Samantha’s students have been with her since the inception of her program. They have had positive experiences, and hung back afterwards to tell me about how much they loved the classes. They felt strongly that they looked and felt better as a result of their yoga work, even outside of their physical injuries. One woman mentioned being told by her coworkers that she looked as if she had lost weight, when in fact she thought that her posture was better and was causing her to stand up straighter.
Yogabilitation is a growing practice that is currently centered around physical therapy students, but is highly recommended for anyone looking for a gentle and restorative practice with just the right amount of personal attention to the various physical ailments that everybody has. The teacher and the space are warm and welcoming, and the classes are especially appropriate for elderly people and people looking to try yoga for the first time.
2 Delavergne Avenue, Wappingers Falls and 2096 New Hackensack Road, Poughkeepsie