Yoga after Stroke

Did you or someone you know experience a stroke? Assumptions are that only ‘old’ people experience stroke, but this is not the case. My mother had a stroke and a heart attack when she was 49. While our stroke risk increases with age, stroke in young people, including infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, does happen. Here’s how you can benefit from Yoga after experiencing a stroke:

If you think that you can’t do yoga because you’re not bendy or can’t balance, please reconsider.

Yoga involves a combination of poses, meditation, breathing, and relaxation techniques and can be altered to suit every body.

The Body Mind connection we foster during Yoga practice is very beneficial for stroke recovery:

1. Yoga Helps Rewire the Brain

Yoga is therapeutic for stroke recovery because of the intense focus and attention required. Each movement is (ideally) very deliberate, and that extra stimulation can really wake up your brain.

Your brain gets an extra push that says, “Yes, we’re moving! Let’s get better at this skill.”

2. Yoga Helps Stroke Survivors with Balance, Range of Motion, Strength, and Endurance

Yes, all that good stuff comes from yoga! In this study from 2014, 37 stroke survivors participated in yoga twice a week for 8 weeks. By the end of those 8 weeks, the stroke survivors improved their pain, neck range of motion, passive hip range of motion, upper extremity strength, and endurance.

That’s a lot of benefits from two yoga sessions per week! And it’s a great reason to start your yoga practice right now.

Are you asking: Is Yoga Safe for You?

If you are a stroke survivor with impaired movement and balance, then for your safety you should modify all your yoga poses to suit your ability level. Also, be sure to practice with a trained teacher, caregiver or therapist.

3. Yoga Can Unintentionally Help with Your Gait!

The mobility issues that stroke survivors face often lead to balance issues and poor gait (your manner of walking). In another study on yoga for stroke recovery, researchers discovered that yoga helped stroke survivors improve both balance and gait speed.

The quality of their gait improved with longer steps and better coordination.

Best of all, the study didn’t even intend to discover a correlation between yoga and gait improvement! Researcher Tracy Dierks reported,

“The yoga intervention was designed to improve balance, not gait; we did not focus on improving gait at all. Yet we saw major improvements in most clinical gait measurements.”

Researchers found benefits of yoga for stroke recovery outside of their original purpose! That speaks volumes for how powerful this practice is.

If you want to improve your movement, balance, and gait, then we recommend adding yoga to your rehabilitation as soon as possible – with proper guidance and care.

4. Yoga Can Be Modified to All Stages of Recovery

Yoga is also great for stroke recovery because it can be tailored to almost any stage of recovery.

Even if you have paralysis, you can start with meditation and mental practice.

If you have some mobility impairments, you can try starting with chair yoga or using props to support your poses.

5. Yoga Helps You Remember to Stop Holding Your Breath While You Exercise

We all know that breathing is good, especially when we’re exercising. This is obvious.

An unintentional mistake that stroke survivors often make is holding their breath while they exercise.

Because movement requires so much more effort than before, it can cause you to subconsciously hold your breath while you do your rehab exercises – NOT GOOD!

Luckily, yoga places a heavy emphasis on linking breath to movement. Breathe in, move one way. Breathe out, move another way.

This extra emphasis on your breath will help you remember to breathe when you’re doing rehab – and when you’re going about your daily life!

Start Your Yoga Practice Today

We’re only an email or phone call away to help guide you through your yoga practice.

(Sourced and adapted from: Flintrehab)