At Leeward Oahu center, developmentally disabled adults find joy in yoga
BY FERNANDO PACHECO
We previously visited Kahumana Organic Farm in Lualualei Valley to get tips on prepping soil for your garden. But the Kahumana Community offers more than agriculture. Hale Lana O Kahumana, on the same grounds as the farm, features supportive health and educational programming for adults with developmental disabilities.
Hale Lana participants volunteer, get involved with community events, and get outside for recreational activities.
Each day of the program is chock full of activities. And the day kicks off with yoga. Led by several instructors of various yoga disciplines, the yoga class is modified to each individual’s comfort level.
Being808 sat down with yoga coordinator Kristalena Lamore and Hale Lana Director Nancy Laird to learn more.
When it comes to yoga, Lamore prefers the yin or vinyasa styles, depending on her mood. However, when it’s time to lead the individuals of Hale Lana, her class is a medley of sorts.
“We use props. They really like the props. Sometimes we’ll put singing into it, like a lokahi chant,” she said.
Some of the props, such as yoga blocks, help modify yoga poses. Other props help participants focus on form and movement. Tissues are also used so that participants can pay attention to and control their breathing.
Laid added, “Most yoga classes are very serious and quiet. But ours includes fun and laughter because that’s what they need in order to be interested to do it. They’re fun people. They’re not going to just lie there quietly.”
Common benefits of yoga include improved flexibility and pain and stress and pain relief.
Laird said she saw these benefits and more in one of the members of the Kahumana community.
“He had been working on our farm for over a year and he had lost maybe about 10 pounds from the hard physical labor,” she said. “He was getting firmer but hadn’t really lost a lot of weight. Then as he started doing yoga, in 3 or 4 months, he lost 30 pounds.”
Lamore, meanwhile, noticed an improved sense of balance in her students. She said, “When we first started, we would try balancing poses but they would be off here and off there. Now they are intensely focused – they could stay (in the balancing pose) longer than me, probably. It’s really cool. “
The yoga classes range from 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes, they’re held outdoors.
Because the yoga class is the first activity of the day, program members sometimes show up in a mood that’s slightly too hyper for yoga. To help calm moods, the program has begun to use essential oils. Different scents can be used for different effects. For instance, Lamore says for a hyperactive person, they will use lavender to promote calm and improve focus. Conversely, citrus scented oil will be used to bring up a person’s mood. The oils are usually applied while the participants are in shavasna (lying on back pose).
Hale Lana O Kahumana is still growing and they want to put the word out that there are empty yoga mats they’d like to fill. As one of two adult day health programs on the Waianae Coast, leeward families with an adult with developmental disabilities are encouraged to inquire. The day program is located at 86-660 Lualualei Homestead Rd., in Waianae. Click on the map below for directions.
Fernando Pacheco is a blogger for being 808, a content specialist at HMSA and a media jack-of-all trades. He’s dedicated to seeking a healthier lifestyle for himself and his family. Join him on his journey on our blog and on social media! Chat with him directly on Twitter.