I discovered this book while searching the web for information on yoga for people living with disabilities. Through a series of clicks I landed on Matthew Sanford's web site where I saw a photo of a young man leaning forward from his wheel chair, reaching over to adjust a student practicing a yoga standing pose.
I learned that the author is a leader in adapting Iyengar yoga to meet the needs of the individual. Matthew's mental awareness--as a result of a spinal cord injury--was literally knocked out of the lower two-thirds of his body. While doctors were able to keep him alive, he was not given the tools to reconnect his mind to his paralyzed body.
Matthew describes how for years after the devastating accident, from the chest down, he experiences a "schism" or "a form of silence" between his mind and his body. During his first months in the hospital and later periods in intensive care units there was so much pain that leaving his body became a survival skill. These experiences alone catapulted Matthew into unknown territory when it comes to understanding the mind and body.
In 1991, he began studying Iyengar yoga with Jo Zukovich, co-founder of the San Diego Yoga Studio. When they started, it was not clear how yoga would travel through his paralyzed body, and there were no examples to emulate. WAKING describes how teacher and student learned and adapted together.
In 1998, Matthew began to share the results of their work in an adaptive class for people with disabilities. About the same time, he began teaching people without disabilities. He found that the principles of yoga apply the same way in both cases. WAKING helps the reader to understand why the author's unique perspective is equally applicable for people who do not have his limitations.
Matthew's broader aim in writing this book and in teaching yoga is to infuse the importance of mind-body integration into the rehabilitation process. To this end, he offers workshops to healthcare professionals and yoga teachers alike. He uses his story to share how yoga is indeed a "waking" of the human consciousness. This is a book that can potentially revolutionize the thinking of physical therapists and anyone that works with people who are coping with past trauma and injuries. I recommend it with all my heart and soul!
--Suza Francina, author, The New Yoga for People Over 50 and The New Yoga for Healthy Aging.