Matthew Sanford is a yoga teacher. He also is a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down at age 13 in a car accident that killed his sister and father.
He teaches yoga to the able-bodied, and he also adapts yoga to people with disabilities, including military veterans.
In 2006, he published a memoir, “Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence.”
When he was 13, he says, he was in coma for three days after the accident. When he awoke from the coma, severely injured and paralyzed, he recognized immediately that the surviving members of his family – his mother and brother – “were desperate and they needed me to live.” Connecting to his remaining family was a “healing story.”
In an interview with Krista Tippett for the On Being radio show, he talks about having two lives: “My life as a walking person, ended at age 13. And I’ve had another life since.”
His new life stems from efforts he made to reconnect with his body, something yoga teaches the able and the disabled. Though he will never walk, he has trained himself to feel subtle sensations in his legs.
Sanford talks about the impact of yoga:
“When people learn to breathe and move at the same time, it’s like a new world opens up. They start to feel a sense of strength in their whole body. They manage stress better. They’re happier. When you realize that your body isn’t something that you need to distain, regret, or think of as being inadequate, but rather, as the best home your mind will ever have, that’s the beginning of profound healing.”
–– BL GROSS