Rousettus LLC is a start-up company, founded with the sole purpose of improving the lives of the physically challenged. We enhance their sense of well-being with products and services that meet their specific needs. We empower them to fully and safely participate in mainstream, health-related activities.
We focus on activities that create joy, self-confidence and longevity. Our vision is to mainstream activities like yoga, meditation and exercise — making them accessible to all, regardless of vision, infirmity or age.
Rousettus’ main product is our Visually Impaired Yoga Mat. The VIYM® is designed to enable those who are blind or have low vision to practice yoga safely and confidently.
For the first time, yoga has been made easy and accessible for everyone. The same mental, spiritual and healing benefits of yoga can now be enjoyed by millions of people around the world with equanimity and without visual cues.
A New Way to Teach Yoga
Prior to VIYM®, the challenges faced by a visually impaired student trying to practice yoga made it difficult to progress. Students had trouble detecting the location of their body on a yoga mat and the direction in which they were facing. Balancing, sensing and reaching optimal, ideal body alignment is difficult without any visual cues.
Mainstream yoga classes are typically designed for the sighted student. Those with low vision or who are blind have reported that while attending mainstream yoga classes, the instructions are confusing, frustrating and hard to follow.
As a yoga instructor, I initially faced similar challenges:
- how to articulate posture instructions in ways that made sense without any visual cues;
- how to lessen the need to physically manipulate the student during class;
- how to convey body direction without having any eye contact or visual cues.
A Yoga Mat for Everybody
To address these challenges, VIYM® is designed in three dimensions. The tactile hand-placement, feet-placement, and spine or belly-placements, and head-placement are distinguishable by shape, elevation, convexity and concavity. And all locations are discernible by touch.
The strategically-placed raised and indented features help the visually-impaired yoga student feel where their hands, feet and face should be placed for all 24 basic yoga postures. These intuitive tactile feedback features also help him/her to feel their location and direction on the mat, helping the student to obtain the all-important body alignment during a yoga posture sequence.
We have also developed two instructional DVDs. These DVDs can be used by an instructor to train themselves on using comprehensive language and a recommended sequence of postures. And students can use the DVD to guide themselves through a yoga class using the VIYM® on their own.
The strength behind VIYM® by Rousettus LLC is the unique background of its creator, Tracy Curley.
After working as a marine biologist for ten years, Tracy’s intense interest in learning how body and mind work together eventually led her to pursue the study of yoga at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA. A practitioner herself for 14 years, she has been teaching since 2005.
In addition to teaching traditional students, she has voluntarily brought yoga to groups often on the periphery of yoga, such as the blind, a community home for the aged, and a young girls’ soccer team.
Her background as a scientist, coupled with her experience as a yoga instructor and personal characteristics of compassion and courage give Tracy a unique set of competencies.
Her eagerness to bring the healing powers of yoga to a group she felt could benefit enormously on many levels – confidence, health, independence – led her to pursue her idea with a single-minded focus.
Her scientific skills of observation, exactness and perseverance have resulted in a high quality product, tested and re-tested to ensure it adds value to the blind student’s experience. Her innate curiosity has led her to research and study in depth how the blind learn physical activities and relate to space.
And along the way, Tracy has reached out to others to supplement her own expertise, creating a cadre of knowledgeable collaborators.