By Faye Martins
Once an intern has finished Yoga teacher training, the most common neurological disorder a new instructor may encounter is a stroke who is recovering from a stroke. A stroke results when the brain gets cut off from its all-important oxygen supply. The effects of a stroke vary, depending on which part of the brain was affected. Generally, speech, balance, memory and movement become difficult after suffering a stroke. Stroke rehabilitation usually includes working with physical therapists, speech therapists or occupational therapists with the goal of regaining basic abilities. There is new research that suggests stroke victims can also benefit from a yoga program including postures, meditation and breathing.
We use balance on a daily basis to walk, get dressed, bend, twist and move about doing normal activities. Most people probably don’t realize how important balance is until it’s gone. Stroke victims often have to re-learn many of these basic movements in order to function. Yoga teachers use asanas to help students to improve balance, which gives someone recovering from a stroke victims the necessary confidence to stay motivated during rehabilitation.
It makes sense that as stroke victims begin to regain strength, mobility and balance, their confidence improves. The cycle continues as this better attitude and confidence spurs more motivation to work toward recovery. The meditative portions of a yoga routine encourage inner reflection and peace. Perhaps yoga training helps patients come to terms with what happened to them and find an inner sense of strength to draw from. Patients can deal with all of the emotions associated with a stroke in a positive manner. The result is a positive attitude toward recovery and life in general.
As agility, range of motion and balance improve, patients experience less fear of falling or injuring their selves. As fear decreases, their confidence can increase and they can begin to feel more independent. It’s hard to have to rely on someone else for basic needs like getting dressed or tying your shoes. Stroke patients can begin to do these seemingly small tasks for their selves again without fear.
Stroke patients who practice yoga and regain much of their physical abilities can rely less on others to help them. A stroke changes your life in the blink of an eye, changing you from a fully functioning adult into someone who must rely on others for even the most basic needs. Yoga postures help patients regain movement, agility and balance so they can go about many daily tasks by their selves. This independence also contributes to the cycle of a more positive attitude, leading to more confidence, leading to more recovery.
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