The blind leading the blind to feel yoga’s benefits


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The terms “loud” and “yoga” are rarely used in the same sentence, but that changes when Doreen Holmes is the yogi.

“Close your eyes,” Holmes said to her class. “Try to relax and we’ll keep quiet for a couple of seconds.”

After the brief silence, Holmes directs the group at Insight in Warwick to its first position.

“Warrior 1… now, bend into the right knee,” she said.

When you can’t see something you didn’t understand in the first place, maneuvering your limbs in an exact way can turn your body into a question mark, according to Susan Kinzer.

Kinzer has been legally blind since she was a teenager and discovered a long time ago that exercise is not something you should take for granted.

“It’s very difficult for blind people to exercise,” she said. “When you’re blind, you can’t see that you’re moving and then you end up walking into things. So, it’s frustrating.”

Angie Stabile has been blind since birth.

“Sometimes with all the Warrior 1’s and 2’s? I get confused with where your leg goes where,” Stabile said. “She understands why we’re asking questions. You’re not afraid to ask her a question.”

With that, Holmes walks toward one of the mats.

“Your hips are squared,” Holmes said, helping the student glide into place. “Did you think there’d be no pain today. Bring it in and lower it.”

Holmes has loved yoga for years, but did not train to become a yogi until she became legally blind.

She realized someone who cannot see needs more descriptive and patient instructions to help them tap into the benefits of yoga.

“So, bend down,” Holmes said to one student. “Keep this straight. Perfect.”

Stabile said yoga is still difficult to follow at times, but the benefits are clear and lasting.

“It stretches me out and makes me feel good for the whole week. Once you do it more than once, you get it,” Stabile said.

Holmes said yoga helps blind students with their balance, as well as flexibility. 

Stabile said she likes how it shows their fortitude.

“I don’t let my blindness define my life and who I am and what I’m going to do in life,” Stabile said. “I just do it.”

The upside might be demonstrated by growth in participation. Not too long ago, Insight was offering one yoga class a month. Now, it’s offering classes once a week.

Email Walt at with your story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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