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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 30, No. 1, Winter 2014

 

Kenya Polio Survivors Embrace Yoga

Alicia Helion, PhD, Eshiakula, Kenya

“Habari Asabuhi, Karibu!”

The students receive my Swahili greeting before we begin practicing yoga in one of the most unlikely places: rural western Kenya. These yoga students are primarily polio survivors, and they are attending classes at the Amani (peace in Swahili) Educational Center. At this center, people with disabilities and HIV practice yoga, hear guest speakers on health-related topics and have fellowship.

Here, in a tiny village called Eshiakula, yoga classes are often the only “medical care” people with disabilities can access. There are free clinics, but the few dollars it costs to get to the town is more than most can afford. So many participants have untreated medical conditions, often living with severe pain. Further, many deal daily with the stress of discrimination, poverty and living with a disability. Yoga offers them a reduction in pain, increased flexibility and strength and a respite from stress.

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