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Adaptive Yoga Study Shows Promise for Visual Impairment

Executing yoga movements and poses correctly can be difficult enough, but imagine how much harder it would be if you can’t see those movements.

That’s an important challenge for people with vision impairment who wish to participate in instructional exercises such as yoga. A study at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital titled “Adaptive Yoga for Patients with Vision Impairment and Their Families” is addressing that challenge by evaluating the feasibility of designing yoga instruction for those with visual impairment.

A key rationale for making exercise instruction adaptable is that those with visual impediments are at risk for poor health outcomes, mainly due to sedentary behaviors and related weight management issues, says Laura Dreer, PhD, who directs the Psychological & Neuropsychology Clinical Research Services for the UAB Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

“We had yoga instructors show us some of the techniques they use in regular classes, and then we planned a pilot program in partnership with the UAB Campus Recreation Center,” Dreer says. “Then they used simulator goggles to experience how vision impairment impacts any efforts to do yoga poses, and from that we determined what our sample group might require in terms of instruction.”

The sample group yielded promising data. More than 90 percent of the group said they were satisfied with adaptive verbal instructions, 100 percent reported that the modifications were helpful, and almost 80 percent said they were likely to practice yoga at home.