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Yoga practice for blind people

At thinking in Yoga classes we always picture an instructor and the participants copying all his movements, right?? But what if a blind person would like to practice Yoga? Well, a normal Yoga class might be almost impossible or at least very frustrating. But now technology is on the side of those with debility of sight! A real invention that will help all of them to start or improve their Yoga practice!

The amazing program is called Eyes free Yoga and works with Microsoft Kinect. It got developed by a team of computer scientists at the University of Washington and works by tracking body movements and offering verbal feedback in real time. The program allows to read the user´s body angles in a pose due to cameras and skeletal-tracking technology and can guide him or her to reach the desired position. It tells how to adjust arms, legs, back or neck by giving instructions like “Lean sideways toward your left” and offers at the moment 6 poses - Warrior I and II, Tree and Chair poses.

Obviously it was hard work to reach the level of a simulated yoga instructor. Several yoga teachers supported the research team to find the correct criteria to guide users easily to the right alignment in a pose. About 30 different commands has been programmed for each of the positions. 16 blind and low vision participants have been recruited to test the program and give feedback about its effectiveness. Some of them already had experience with yoga, others never tried it before. Interesting is that the majority – 13 out of 16 – would recommend the program to others and would like to use it again to improve their health. The biggest compliment the developers could get. Actually their idea is to present it online for downloading and enable people with debility of sight to enjoy their Yoga practice.

In our opinion this is a big step on the encouraging mission of helping those who would like to do Yoga but have a disability. A wonderful example on how technology can be of great benefit.

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