Stacie Dooreck Of Sunlight Chair Yoga At The Accessible Yoga Conference
By Dana Lee
The Accessible Yoga Conference is coming to San Francisco from October 6th - October 8th, and I can’t wait to meet all of the talented teachers! Because there is an incredible demand for people trained in accessible yoga, this conference is an auspicious opportunity to meet the needs of your entire community, especially those with a diverse range of abilities. I was so enthusiastic after interviewing the founder of the conference, Jivana Heyman, that I decided to visit Chair Yoga author and teacher, Stacie Dooreck, at her regular weekly class at the Jewish Community Center in Pacific Heights. Stacie had a career in corporate marketing for a major yoga organization but has spent over 20 years as a full-time yoga teacher with deep roots to the traditions of Sivananda Yoga. She is the author of Sunlight Chair Yoga: Yoga for Everyone, available in print, e-book and is free in Braille with audio versions for the blind. Her book is a great resource for any yoga teacher or student ready to improve mobility, vitality and flexibility in a tangible, supportive way without fear.
Stacie’s path towards accessible yoga began in her mid-20’s when Lyme disease brought suffering into her life. She says it “felt like having a severe flu for many years." Her joints ached, she had vertigo and walking was difficult. She learned to adapt her yoga practice to help with managing pain, fatigue and reduced mobility after exploring Jivana’s Accessible Yoga Training. She turned her pain into a healing gift for others by expanding her skills to include modalities geared towards helping those with chronic illness and other populations in need of adapting traditional yoga postures. Now she helps people who are “chained to their desk” in the corporate world though office yoga as well as working in Senior Centers, assisted living facilities, in wheelchairs, or basically anywhere at any stage of life.
Back at the JCC, Stacie can be found in a circle of Seniors who carefully follow her ques while performing sun salutations in their chairs. The yoga is perfect because everyone is breathing mindfully, moving to their fullest potential without pain, and of course, laughing and smiling. Stacie says, “No pain, no pain!” and reminds everyone that movement should feel good. It all feels like sunshine even though the light is coming from smiles instead of the window. Someone asked her to end the class with Kirtan Kriya, which is discussed in more detail in her book. Regular practice of this Kriya has been found to improve memory in patients suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment and early Alzheimer’s. “Sa Ta Na Ma” we all sang together while feeling the mudra light up our fingertips. Stacie’s work of the heart is helping others to feel sunshine amid the challenges of human life at every stage of being. The world needs more sunshine yoga teachers like Stacie.
There are still tickets available to the Accessible Yoga Conference and day passes are also available. I’ll be in Stacie’s Chair Yoga class on Sunday, October 8th at the conference and I hope to see you there! Let’s help Stacie and Jivana spread the light of yoga to everyone at every stage of life!