This is the first of a series of blog entries about working with Toke Broni Strandby, a dance student at Northern School of Contemporary Dance currently in his 2nd year. He is Danish like me -a happy coincidence! I met Toke when I was invited to teach yoga at Northern and he was in my class. Toke only has one arm; to be precise, Toke's left arm stops around the elbow. In my yoga classes Toke was often excluded from exercises and postures, struggling to hold a downward, upward dog and unable to do anything involving interlaced fingers or binding.
I found myself asking how I could help Toke to get more out of the classes.
Toke Broni Strandby
Apart from the restriction of only having one arm, Toke was experiencing tightness in the hips, legs and back, making forward bends, twists and hip-opening challenging. I went home and thought that he was actually the student who might benefit most from a yoga practice! I approached him to meet up and work together on developing a personal practice for him to find ways of stretching tight muscles using postures that would accommodate his disability (this is the word that Toke himself uses).
Working in this untested way (at least for me) felt like an opportunity to trial some of my coaching methods as well. Would it be possible to develop this programme through coaching?
This is an excerpt of the initial email I sent him:
"(...) It is very important for me though, that it all comes from you. I'm really not interested in imposing any exercises or solutions on you. Therefore i suggest that we meet the first time just to chat and have some time for you to share thoughts on what you would like to focus on and for me to ask questions.
After that we can meet as many or as few times as we find useful -perhaps 2-4 times over the spring- and develop some ideas and test them out. I'm very interested in thinking about the process of all this and so if it's ok for you I would like to document it. "
In the next blog post about Toke I will reflect on what was discussed at our first meeting.
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