With a thought to address the long-overdue change in the fitness space, Miranda McCarthy founded Adaptive Yoga LIVE to include people with disabilities. Adaptive Yoga is designed to make yoga accessible to more people; a free online seated yoga class was created for the disabled community in response to COVID-19.
Miranda identified the roots of the problem as two-fold: most people with disabilities are uncomfortable in fitness spaces, and there is a severe lack of Disabled trainers and coaches.
Inspired by the work of Miranda, Insights Success reached out to her and talked about how she is addressing the critical issues and removing obstacles for Disabled people who are all on the same journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
What challenges you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey as a business leader has always been a solo one. I have been Disabled since I was two years old, which meant I took the road less traveled and, as the poem goes, ‘that has made all the difference.’
My challenge of living with chronic illness meant I had to be homeschooled for long periods. I couldn’t get my university degree because I had to undergo surgeries, it meant that job opportunities were scarce as reasonable adjustments, such as remote working, we’re not made available until only recently.
I knew if I wanted to make my way in the world, I would have to create my opportunities. From designing jewellery, to designing virtual reality, to launching a yoga company, my challenges were all met in the same way: without fear and with the same drive and determination it takes to wake up every day and overcome the barriers of living in a world that discriminates against you.
Tell us something more about the Company and its mission and vision.
As a result of the stigma associated with disability, people with disabilities are generally excluded from education, employment, and community life which deprives us of opportunities essential to our social development, health, and wellbeing.
Disabled people face barriers, both internal and external, constantly telling us we are less than everyone else. In a world where discrimination against disability is institutionalised in the very fabric of our society – can yoga really help people with disabilities feel empowered?
At Adaptive Yoga LIVE, we say – YES, it can!
We remove the biggest obstacles to wellbeing within the Disabled community: inactivity, stress, and loneliness, promoting disability awareness and education. No one should suffer needlessly, and nothing should stand in the way of the right to be well; physically, mentally, and socially.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the industry through your expertise in the market?
There are 1.5 billion Disabled people on the planet – that’s the population of the EU and China combined. One in five people are Disabled, and yet, the inequality in sport and physical activity is still an everyday reality for most Disabled people.
Yoga’s global popularity, as well as its proven benefits in terms of physical, mental, and social development, makes it a perfect tool for promoting the inclusion and wellbeing of people with disabilities. Virtually any yoga pose can be made accessible whether it’s done seated, lying down, or assisted.
In my own personal experience, adaptive yoga is the only thing I have found that works to reduce my chronic pain because, unlike physiotherapy (which just uses movement), yoga incorporates movement, mindfulness, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, and relaxation techniques.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
We’ve taken a meritocratic approach to foster a positive culture. We encourage open and frequent sharing of opinions and ideas without fear of negative consequences. There is a sense of kindness and acceptance, and diversity is embraced and respected. Based on empathy, it is a culture that you can not only see but one you can feel.
Supportive: We exist to support our customers and each other.
Individual: We value each other’s differences.
Love: We the people we serve.
Integrity: We do the right thing even when no one is watching.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
Technology continues to play a major role for us all at Adaptive Yoga LIVE.
Having adaptive yoga classes online makes our service more accessible for Disabled people by removing the barriers to participation, including time commitment, transport, help from others, high cost of gym or studio membership, feelings of social judgement, and lack of accessible facilities and equipment. You are no longer dependent on geographical location, and you can join an adaptive yoga class on the other side of the world, as long as you have an internet connection.
Teleworking technology has allowed me, and the other Disabled people I work with, to create our tailor-made workspace at home, taking into consideration our individual needs, which is not always possible in a physical office. We no longer have to navigate the physical commute on inaccessible transport to buildings without lifts, toilets, or step-free access to do business.
Assistive technologies such as speech-to-text and screen-reader software also make communicating for work much smoother; for example, Zoom’s automated closed captioning helps those with hearing disabilities.
As a founder with a background in tech, I am very interested in emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, and artificial intelligence (AI) to help create an even more flexible and inclusive work environment.
What, according to you, could be the next big change in the industry? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
One of the biggest shifts we’re seeing is that fitness is going beyond achieving the perfect bikini body. The mindset of ‘movement is medicine’ is growing with a big focus on holistic fitness programs and mind-body practices. Following multiple lockdowns, financial pressures, and general stress from living through a pandemic, mental health is a key focus in health.
The effects of long covid mean there will be millions of survivors left Disabled by the disease. Adaptive yoga has been proven to be a safe, feasible, and acceptable activity for people with a broad range of comorbidities.
We are currently working with delivery partners such as the UK’s National Health Service to provide yoga and yoga therapy for people with chronic illness and disabilities within a primary care setting.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for the company?
Health inequalities are getting worse. The pandemic has laid bare the extent of the global social care crisis. Our aim is to help boost the social, physical & emotional wellbeing of those who are being denied the support they need. We aim to bring Adaptive Yoga LIVE to the most marginalised communities, continue to lobby for equal rights for disabled people and provide disability education to help eradicate the stigma of disability in society.
What would be your advice to budding women entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the industry?
There’s a great saying in yoga “it’s not about touching your toes – it’s about what you learn on the way down,” and the same is true in business because, every time you fail, you learn, so don’t be afraid, be fearless!