Carol Dickman has been practicing yoga
for nearly 50 years and teaching it for decades, with no intention of stopping. Tall, with long auburn tresses, Dickman speaks in a soft cadence, her words carefully chosen as she recalls her introduction to the practice. “My
earliest recollection of being introduced to yoga was when I lived in Philadelphia,” she said. “I picked up a catalog from the local Y and being eager to embrace the new city I was living in, found a class that led to my life’s work,” she said.
Dickman’s very first teacher, a charismatic young Indian art student, helped ignite her passion to adapt yoga into all aspects of her life. “I was just 21 and those classes gave me the life-altering foundation upon which I progressed,” she added. Dickman went on to study at the Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, MA, where she earned a professional level teaching certification. And those early classes led her to another yogic path: teaching gentle, easy-to-follow yoga to an audience of visually impaired students.
Dickman’s teaching had, up until then, been focused primarily on a mainstream audience. Dickman has taught at NBC Corporate Headquarters in New York City, at Canyon Ranch and in Washington, D.C. she gave classes attended by Tipper Gore and her family. But she soon found herself inspired to work with the physically challenged for a personal reason. “I have a cousin about my age who is blind, and I remember very clearly trying to share my passion for yoga with him,” she said.
From there it seemed a natural progression to develop a gentle, step-by-step method of teaching which she offered to clients at the Jewish Guild For the Blind in New York City. "Even though I entered the classroom as a teacher, it was the students who taught me,” Dickman continued. Over the years she has been told countless times by those she has touched, how her gentle teaching style encouraged confidence and enjoyment, and enabled people to make changes in their lives.
“So much sweetness comes from the people I’ve taught that every day is like waking up in a candy shop,” she said smiling. “I do believe in following your bliss and yoga has been mine for too many years to count. Never could I have imagined this would be the road I would be traveling. My mission now, in part, is to stay open to where I am and to where I am supposed to go next,” she said. “Bringing yoga to people who might think it’s not appropriate or accessible to them fulfills me,” she added.
Dickman recently taught seated yoga to attendees of an Americans for Diabetes Association EXPO, held in New York City and over the years she has taught scores of workshops and classes in Las Vegas as well as New York. Dickman now envisions teaching to an even wider audience. “I want to bring yoga to populations that might never have tried it,” she said. “I want to give back, to be of service and reach out.”
Over the years aging, illness, two falls and broken bones have left Dickman temporarily unable to do classic poses so she can well relate to her physically challenged students. Dickman reflected that her bouts with personal challenges gave her even more opportunities to learn modifications and more incentive to emphasize being gentle on herself.
“I hope my life will inspire others, demonstrating that yoga is not solely a physical exercise, it’s a way of living your life,” she explained.
Carol Dickman has created 3 DVDs: Bed Top Yoga, Seated Yoga and BalanceBasics and Beyond. stretch.com