TheraPLAYoga creates space for adaptive yoga practice

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LANSING, Mich.—TheraPLAYoga, located in downtown Lansing, has been an innovative recreational business, integrating wellness factors of yoga with elements of accessibility and inclusion. Gloria Treviño, the founder and owner of TheraPLAYoga, an adaptive yoga studio, strives to be a resource for wellness for individuals and families who are neurodivergent, disabled and trauma-impacted.

Treviño said that she decided to open TheraPLAYoga for two reasons. The first is her son, who has complex developmental disabilities. The second is due to her physical disabilities that were caused by a car accident. Before her accident, Treviño had been practicing yoga for many years, but it wasn’t until those events that she learned how to use yoga concepts to parent her son and adapt to her body.

“Whatever the barrier, the obstacle, the main goal is to show people, children, especially young adults, parent caregivers, that they do belong. They do have space. You can take up space,” Treviño said. You can show up as you are, who you are, we’ll work through it together. We’re going to learn everything together.”

In addition to adaptive classes, TheraPLAYoga offers many accessibility features, ranging from accessible entrances and bathrooms to the spacious structuring of the studio. The studio also has foam flooring for individuals who have a difficult time being on hard surfaces, along with a plain background to ensure clear observations of Treviño’s poses during lessons.

Photo by: Amy Cho

TheraPLAYoga’s front entrance in downtown Lansing. This entrance is one of two doors guests can enter through to attend yoga sessions.

“The idea is that you can walk in, come in, and exist exactly as you are and it works for you,” Treviño said. “There’s no making space for somebody who’s different because it already exists for people who are different.”

Treviño said that implementing accessibility and inclusion in recreational businesses is important because there simply just isn’t enough in general.

“I think that having different things that they’re able to participate in is so important because there are very limited options available, and they need more options for different things that they could do outside of the home,” said Danielle Torres, the parent of Melina Torres, a frequent member of TheraPLAYoga. “Sometimes as a parent, when you’re looking for things like that, it’s very difficult to find.”

Wide shot of TheraPLAYoga from the main entrance. The blue foam mats help individuals who have a hard time on hard floors. Photo by Amy Cho.

Torres said that TheraPLAYoga has not only helped Melina Torres practice yoga successfully, but it also helped with her anxiety.

“I think it’s been wonderful for Melina just to be able to like do yoga in a very successful way. And I think also just Gloria’s personality is so great, and she just, she really helps Melina overall with her anxiety and not just through yoga, but through her communication with her,” Torres said. 

Treviño also credits the success of TheraPLAYoga to their inclusion of caregivers as well as those with disabilities. 

“I can’t shy away from including parent caregivers who spend their whole life being a parent caregiver for the most part,” Treviño said. “Taking care of them and knowing that so much of a child’s mental health and well-being is determined by the primary caregiver’s mental health and well-being that I have to include a whole family focus type thing.”

Waiting room for parent caregivers and families to wait and watch the yoga lessons. This is one of the many ways Treviño actively includes families and caregivers within TheraPLAYoga. Photo by Amy Cho.

Melina Torres said that one of her favorite parts of TheraPLAYoga is the help customers receive to help regulate their bodies in order to enjoy their time there.

“I would definitely (say it) calms their nerves down,” Melina Torres said.

Other yoga studios in the area are beginning to offer more accessible programs. However, TheraPLAYoga is the only studio in the area that is specifically tailored for adaptive movement.

“People can say that they’re for everybody, but you have to consider the source. If you go to someone’s website, and they’re saying, ‘I’m for everybody’, and yet they have their foot twisted behind their head, and they’re like spinning on their pinky finger, are they? Like are they for everybody?” Treviño said. “At TheraPLAYoga, you do it the way that works for you,” Torres said. 

Torres said that she hopes other recreational businesses learn to consider everyone’s needs by asking questions and creating such amenities intentionally for those who may need them.

“I feel like a lot of businesses out there don’t necessarily consider that there are a whole group of people out here that would love to be able to participate in what they have to offer, but they might not ask the questions about what they could do to make that work,” Torres said.

As for the future, Melina Torres hopes for more individuals to feel welcome in yoga spaces like TheraPLAYoga.

“I would like to see more people try it for themselves,” Melina Torres said.

For more information on TheraPLAYoga, visit their website.

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