Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series that features our YFA members hard work, dedication, & passion. Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members, we would not be where we are today.
Why were you personally drawn to Yoga for Arthritis?
I was diagnosed with OA in my right hip and there was a period of time that I was in acute and chronic pain. I took inventory of my situation and asked myself what spiritual lessons did I need to learn from this and how could I impart this knowledge to others? I had a successful total anterior hip replacement in 2016. I met Nancy O'Brien at NY-IYI at an open house for Yoga for Arthritis Teacher's Training and I knew I could learn tools to be proactive in my own longevity and wellness. This enforced my ability and confidence to work with many people who have had total hip and knee replacements, back and neck surgeries. It is deeply gratifying and stirring for me to be a part of their recovery along their journey to wellness and deep healing.
What lessons have you learned through your Yoga for Arthritis journey?
Some disabilities are invisible and this can be very frustrating. Some of the 20 and 30 year olds I've worked with have more pain than my elders. In other words, I do not assume or compartmentalize people. I listen, observe the unsaid and assess. No matter the age, we all have our pride and it is important to treat each individual with the dignity and compassion they deserve. When I work with a new student in a class setting, at the very least we will have had a conversation and a mini intake of their history. I have championed both my personal clients and students to be proactive and voice their needs and they do and it is wonderful because we mutually remain current with one another and there is often dialogue between the PCP, Osteopath, and Acupuncturist which means better care for them.
What is it like to teach during COVID-19?
I stopped teaching face to face classes March 13 which was 4 days before NYC Gov. closed yoga studios and gyms.I just couldn't bring myself to practice business as usual even with the stringent Covid-19 protocols. In good conscience, I cancelled all live classes as I was particularly concerned for those with arthritis and compromised immune systems.
- What have been your experiences?
It is amazing and emotional that we literally all stepped up and were up and running our virtual classes within days. My husband supported me in taking over the computer room as my office, yoga studio and virtual gym. I guided many people on how to get on Zoom and over the course of the weeks called and emailed every single one of my students and clients to get current and to make sure they were all right. I log in virtually about 15 minutes early and I learned to keep the class open for about 10 minutes after we've ended our Class Session. On Zoom, when you are the host, instead of pressing end meeting for all, I press leave meeting and this gives me the option of staying on or leaving in case I have another appointment following my class. This is a golden opportunity for students to catch up, make 'dates" with one another and to experience the community connection.
Please tell us about your experience working with the underserved population.
So many stories, so little time...
While I was teaching at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, NY-PBM and giving sessions to the hospital staff, it became clear to me what a privilege it is to serve all. The participating NY-PBM students were clinicians, cafeteria food servers, office workers and security. In other words, I witnessed first hand how Yoga was cutting through classism and elitism in the hospital culture and bureaucracy. I was not asking, "Are you a Dr?" I simply needed the student's name and work ID number and the beauty is I could hold them all in the same sacred space of inclusivity. I also was able to genuinely thank the NY-PBM Hospital Staff by saying, "Thank you for saving my Husband's Life, twice."
During the Group Acupuncture Therapy with Modified Yoga for Chronic Pain ( GAPYOGA) Research Study I witnessed how some of the patient's seemed to warm up to me because I am hispanic, obviously a woman of color and I speak Spanish. I learned that if I shared something appropriately personal and helpful without deviating from their treatment, we could form a genuine bond.
I am currently working with Self Help Virtual Classes online giving Sit and Be Fit Adaptive Yoga Classes. VSC has been giving virtual classes for 10 years to the homebound and the services are free.
All of these experiences are allowing me to be creative, to re-frame and to serve the populations that are nearest and dearest to my heart. Ideally, when I work with people, every student, client, patient and provider will feel, "You are my Favorite."
Where others can find your classes?
I'm currently teaching in Dolores' Zoom Room. This is a Spring and Summer none of us will ever forget! I expect to be back to teaching face to face classes in Brooklyn when it is safe and wise for my populations. I will keep my website updated: www.doloresnatividad.com
Dolores Marie Natividad "Lola" Bio:
Dolores Natividad is a certified ACSM Exercise Physiologist and earned her BA in Biology at Marymount Manhattan College. She has practiced Yoga since the mid-80’s and is certified by the International Yoga Therapist Association. Her passion led her to be part of the Wellness team at NY-PBM for 4 years offering Stress Management,Chair Yoga, Accessible Yoga and MELT Method to the Hospital Staff. Dolores maintains her private practice in NYC where she offers Strength Training,Yoga Therapy, MELT Method and Gyrotonics. She currently works privately with a wide spectrum of people from the elite athletes to Pre and Post Op, COPD, MS and Arthritis populations. It is Dolores’ privilege to have studied with the founders of these intact systems she implements: Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga Institute Julio Horvath the creator of Gyrotonics and Sue Hitzman, MELT Method innovator. Her personal mission and joy is to bridge verified complementary systems to Health Care.
Connect with Dolores: Vimeo / Facebook / Instagram / Youtube