There was a news story and clip on the council’s website about someone with learning difficulties who had gone into supported accommodation in Penzance. The clip explained he liked cooking and loved HMV in Truro. My ganglion cysts on my feet caused me pain last night but I did some yoga in Saltash after l took some old hoovers to the recycling centre. (I did a bit of cobra and child’s pose and downward dog, but my body still isn’t yoga-perfect bendiness) I have done yoga in various places in the last few years. The reason why I do it is due to back pain.

Exercise for me is very much about keeping me able to stay in work. For other health-related reasons, I have to be selected about what forms of exercise to take part in. Whilst participating in the yoga, the story once again came into my mind. On many occasions, those participating in yoga beside me may have not had regular contact with disability, let alone with Autism or learning disabilities. Yoga like Wild swimming is very much a female dominant activity. Even in a gym setting the chances of seeing those with learning disabilities and Autism trying to keep in shape is rare. Are there any learning disabled yoga teachers out there?

One reason is unfortunately the connection between wealth and good health is so real. Generally learning disability does not have the same opportunities to gain the earning power as the average gym lover. So they may not gain a passion in the healthy lifestyle industry. The result is people dying younger than they should be doing so. Also, there is a bigger issue and that is quality of life. Imagine if you were told at the very start of your life journey that you probably wouldn’t get a good job, marry the ones you wish to marry or potentially be denied the health care you need to stay alive or allow you to relax in a yoga class or the gym? How many of the population would be knocking on Ten Downing Street if their life chances were curtained so much? The most hurtful thing about poverty and oppression is not the lack of money and the lack of holidays, it’s the relationships you could’ve had if life treated you better. It’s the cuddles you miss from a good friend. So if Cornwall still thinks after all this time that someone with a learning disability’s only goal is to go shopping once in a while, then why after ten years do you still don’t understand?

Yoga by the river, Lostwithiel is the only place so far where a car wasn’t always necessary to take part in yoga. This scene is virtually unchanged since this image was taken 15 years ago. The branch line to Fowey survives but only as a freight line.
  • Written by Chris Burns for #LearningDisabilityWeek