Research can be a way of turning the gaze, with curiosity, toward some specific experience. Rhea Boysen is currently a graduate student at the University of Regina. As an undergraduate student in Kinesiology, Rhea did her mini practicum placement with Astonished!, and post graduation she was the Astonished! Interim Manager covering our Executive Director’s maternity leave. Over the course of four years Rhea established comfortable and trusting relationships with the A! Student Researchers, A! Board, and A! Staff. This comfort and trust is an important aspect of the research Rhea is currently doing with Astonished! When Rhea enters the room of the Yoga for Every Body project she enters as a welcome friend, not as a stranger. She brings a gaze that is accepted and welcomed.
As part of her Research Methods class Rhea is using the case study method to research the experience of young adults with disAbilities who are participating in the Yoga for Every Body project. Rhea says ‘My initial perceptions have all changed, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the lived experience of the Student Researchers but I realize there was so much I did not know and took for granted. For example, how sitting in a wheel-chair can create a sense of disconnection from the ground, and how the practice of ‘bone on bone’ can stimulate the bones, calm the body, and give a sense of connection and groundedness.’
We are all learning new things through this research project. As participants in the research A! Student Researchers are learning to turn their gaze with curiosity on their own inner experience as well as on their experience of being in the group. These are some things they have noticed:
- This is my exercise/practice, it contributes to my physical wellness.
- I had some concerns before trying yoga, I wasn’t sure how my body was going to do yoga.
- I have a busy mind and yoga helps to quiet the mind.
- Ruth and Rebekah are creating a supportive safe space.
- I like the group aspect
- I like the silent support and to be together and comfortable in silence.
- This yoga is calling on and expanding the capacities in everyone’s bodies.
Each week Ruth and Rebekah do one hour of planning in preparation for the yoga class. They are guided in this by the work of B.K.S. Iyengar. Ruth says to Rebekah ‘I can’t do Yoga for Every Body without you. You give me the authority. Everybody in the room is doing yoga, even though there are some assistants, this is a yoga practice for all, not a therapeutic session for some. Over time I can see everyone is moving into the ‘yoga zone’ more quickly.’
Thank you, Rhea, for doing this research with us, you are honouring each persons experience, acknowledging the expertise of the participants, and sharing this expertise with a wider community.
PHOTO: Rhea Boysen, Rebekah Lindenbach, Ruth Blaser