ASU student introduces 'Blind Yoga' to ASU students

The descriptive yoga class created for visually impaired students celebrates one year anniversary

Last year, an ASU student began offering yoga classes for students with visual impairments when she noticed that programs at the ASU fitness center were underused by those with disabilities. Now, the class has grown to include over 30 students, both visually impaired and not. 

Tyller Ayers, a special education and elementary education sophomore who is in charge of the Adaptive Recreation Program at the Sun Devil Fitness Center in Tempe, created the class in January 2017 after realizing that not many students with disabilities were showing up to the group fitness classes the center offers. 

“We were able to make all our group classes accessible, but we wanted one that focuses on people with disabilities,” she said. 

Students who are not visually impaired are offered blindfolds, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones and experience a descriptive yoga class in fullness. 

Once blindfolded, students are able to let go of judgments from the people around them, creating a dynamic that is different from any other fitness class offered at the Sun Devil Fitness Center. 

“It’s a great opportunity to try yoga — you’re blindfolded, so you don’t have to feel that insecurity that you would in a normal group fitness class," Ayers said.

The class was originally only open to visually impaired students, most of whom were members of DareDevil, the on-campus student organization for students with visual disabilities. The class has since been opened up to all students and has grown to around 20 to 40 students per class.

“This has gone above and beyond what I’ve imagined it to be,” Ayers said.

Ayers encourages all students to try descriptive yoga and experience a different approach to the practice that they may not be used to.

“When you normally teach yoga, you rely on people looking at you and demonstrating the motion," Ayers said. "When it comes to descriptive yoga, you have to be aware that people aren’t going to be looking at you, so you have to describe the motions in a way that you can imagine in your head without having to see it."

The class is taught by Courtney Langerud, a sophomore studying speech and hearing sciences. Langerud, who began teaching the class last semester, said she is grateful to be a part of the inclusive energy these classes bring to the ASU community.

“It’s an amazing program that they’re offering. It’s amazing that the whole ASU community can come together along with people with visual impairments,” Langerud said. 

Melody Taylor, a fully-blind linguistics senior and member of DareDevil, commends the SDFC and ASU for its inclusivity.

“I don’t think there are many other universities that push to include quite like ASU does,” Taylor said. 


Reach the reporter at megbarbera19@gmail.com and follow @meganbarbera_ on Twitter. 

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