Yoga studio offers classes in American Sign Language

VENTNOR, N.J. (AP) - It was quiet in the studio at Yoga Nine, except for the sound of a deep bass drum being thumped in the front of the room.

About 17 students inhaled and exhaled along with the tempo of the drum.

For those in the room, it was a form of communicating with the instructor. The only other form of communication was sign language.

The class was instructed completely in American Sign Language, and the class is geared for those who have partial hearing loss and who are partially or completely deaf.

It's just one of many classes the studio plans to offer through the summer and fall. It's part of the studio's Community Access Yoga Classes program and is available to the deaf community with paid classes every Tuesday and one free class available once a month. The class is available to the general public.

There is no oral instruction. The vibration of the drum helps the students know when to begin a pose, to keep a steady breath and to finish and move on to the next pose.

Francesca Carbone-Dicarlo heads the class as she signs along with the group to keep them up to speed.

Students sign with Carbone-Dicarlo if they feel lost, and she, along with studio owner Laurie Greene, walk around to give up-close visual demonstrations so students can keep up.

That inclusion is something the community needs to do more, Carbone-Dicarlo told the Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/2ujIIme).

"It's important that we accommodate for the deaf population, because most studios don't have classes that accommodate, and the deaf community then doesn't have access," she said.

Carbone-Dicarlo graduated from Gallaudet University - the only deaf university in the world - and said she wanted to integrate both sign language and yoga into one class. It's a class unlike any other.

"With classes around here, they can see what's going on but they aren't getting instructional cues on where to move their body. It's more providing a service," she said.

And it seems to be working.

About 30 minutes into the class, students are breaking a sweat as they move from chair pose to child's pose.

A couple of children in the group laugh and take pictures of each other as they hold their pose. Some are concentrating on their breath and the placement of their body on the mat.

Susan Coleman, of Galloway Township, is hearing-impaired and saw a Facebook post about the free class. She began classes and said, via interpretation from Carbone-Dicarlo, that she now feels more flexible on a daily basis.

"My first class I went home and I hadn't really exercised much. I sometimes walk, but I needed more activity. I really like yoga. I feel energized," Coleman said.

She said ASL instruction is so important when it comes to having someone like Carbone-Dicarlo provide sign language.

"It's really helpful. We need more ASL access with businesses all over," Coleman said.

Rosemarie Crisham, of Margate, played the role of drummer during Tuesday evening's class.

Crisham said the deaf community is frustrated due to a lack of resources.

"We always wish we can go and do this and do that but we don't have the access and there's so much opportunity out there but we don't have the language," Crisham said through Carbone-Dicarlo.

More classes at the studio are on the way.

Greene intends to host CAYC classes for different groups in the area. She will start a class for those suffering with trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder in September where the instructor will be affiliated with a local veterans' group. The classes, like Tuesday's class, still will be available to the general public. She also wants to begin a class in September for people with chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis or lupus.
 

© 2017 Associated Press


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