A Teacher Learns from Her Student

Owner of Bikram Yoga Pasadena Val Sklar Robinson tells us about one of her favorite and most inspiring students.

Thursday, July 23, 2015 | 8:27 pm

In 17 years of teaching yoga, I have never met anyone like Eva Sweeney. I love Bikram Yoga with all my being and believe it can help anyone feel and live better. I teach this yoga because I believe it works to bring healing to so many parts of the body and I always say “I am willing to help anyone who is willing to come and try.” I have lived by that, but I had never had a student like Eva.

I got an email from Eva Sweeney mid Feb of this year. She explained to me she had cerebral palsy and was in a wheel chair. I told her she was welcome to come to class but I wanted to talk to her before she came so I could prepare myself for how to help her best. After one conversation with her aide, Megan, I told them to come. She came to her first class on Feb 25th 2015. On the first day I put her by the doors so she would not be too hot, I cleared the room in case the aide needed to take her out and told her to take it easy.

Eva has severe Cerebral Palsy and is one of the most dynamic, strong, smart and tenacious people I have ever met. She mostly communicates with her eyes and infectious laugh and her spirit is so strong you can almost touch it. She communicates so clearly, just not with words. When she needs words, her aide will help communicate.

The day she took her first class, I had 34 other students including 2 other first timers. Even from the first day, the class could sense there was something special going on. I also realized she did not need to be by a door for air or any other special situation. She loves being in the room and the heat and she works the entire class.

From the beginning of class, I gave her modifications and challenged her to try stretches that I thought would help her. I also told her to work on her breathing. That first class Eva won my heart. I asked a lot of her, and she tried everything. We worked a lot on her straightening her arms. When she started, she could only do one are at a time, but over the first months, she was able to try both arms.

Another dramatic change was holding her head up. This was not a big goal of hers, but when she came that first day her head was angled down as she looked up. But the time she took her last class last week on July 8th, she was able to hold her head up for long periods before dropping. I just find that amazing.

After attending a few weeks, she decided to give herself a 6 week challenge. Her goals were: come 3 times a week, sit upright on the mat unassisted for 5 minutes, get her right arm and leg straight, no rolling while on the floor, and to maintain good breathing during the whole class. She achieved most of these goals and I watched as she could sit longer and longer unassisted until one day I cut her off at almost 10 minutes. Eva detailed her 6 week challenge on her blog at http://adventuresinceepyoga.blogspot.com

Before Eva moved up to northern California, I wanted to make a quick video of her as I believe she can inspire people of all abilities to go after their goals and do yoga as a way to heal and feel better. Eva wrote her experiences and had her aide read them. It made me so happy to hear her pain has been reduced by 85%. I also did not know that the other studios she called were not open to help her. Their loss was my gain. Eva touched my studio and my students in so many ways. She inspired all of us to stop complaining and get to living. I will miss you Eva, but I am so glad you had this wonderful experience at Bikram Yoga Pasadena.

Watch her video

Bikram Yoga Pasadena is located at 2089 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. For more information, call (626) 304-9642 or visit www.bikrampasadena.com.


blog comments powered by Disqus