Yoga for Stroke Recovery

Yoga for Stroke Recovery

When we think of yoga, we often think of limber, bendy people that can morph their bodies into unimaginable shapes.

While it can seem intimidating at first, don’t let the pros scare you. There is a type of yoga for everyone, even beginners and stroke survivors!

While some types of yoga focus on flowing postures, others focus solely on breath and meditation. Now, how does this all tie into your stroke recovery?

The Science Behind the Mat

According to the American Stroke Association, group yoga therapy for individuals with chronic stroke has the potential to:

  • Improve balance
  • Improve quality of life
  • Reduce fear of falling
  • Improve independence with daily activities

If that isn’t reason enough to love yoga therapy already, it has also been shown to improve cognition, boost your mood, and reduce stress – all factors that help with stroke recovery and prevention.

If we’ve sold you on these benefits of yoga therapy for your stroke recovery, talk with your physical or occupational therapist to see how you can safely add yoga to your regimen.

A Lesson in Presence

Yoga poses aside, there’s another element to yoga that will help with your stroke recovery, and that’s living in the present moment. When practicing your rehabilitation exercises, devote every ounce of your energy, focus, and attention into your movement.

Instead of thinking about how long it will take to get to the finish line, become rooted into what’s happening right here and right now. With a little practice, you’ll begin to connect with your rehabilitation (and your life) in a whole new light.

Gratitude Is the Attitude

Forget about how long your recovery might take, and instead take it day by day. Focus all of your energy into the present moment and feel grateful that you’re farther along today than you were yesterday.

Be mindful, present, and optimistic.

If this article has resonated with you, have a talk with your therapist to see if yoga can be a beneficial addition to your rehabilitation regimen.

Have you tried yoga for stroke recovery? Leave us a comment below with any advice or feedback to share with our community!

  • Sarah Joy

    I love this article, beautifully written 🙂

    My name is Sarah Joy and I am 26, I suffered a stroke 3 years ago with full right side paralyzation and was in hospital for almost 2 months (as a result of birth control pill and migraines with auora). As I left my physiotherapists recommended keeping with my love of yoga and use it to self heal. It has been a crazy journey but with yoga I am almost 100% recovered.

    The asanas in the beginning were hard but I focused on balance alone and I made leaps and bounds! I was feeling good and pushing myself in this feat I thought was almost over. I was always a healthy person, fit, ate well, but always crazy busy. I focused on healing my body to get back to life but I soon saw my progression coming to a halt. I was less tired but I still limped and fine motor was a mission. With that I finished schooling and put yoga into my goals as a childhood educator. I then went on a yoga teaching retreat (Marianne Wells in Costa Rica) and learned more than I ever could have imagined. I learned the power of connection, true self love, meditation, breathing, nature and of course yoga. Incorporating a yoga mindset into your daily life is much more rewarding and beneficial than slamming out a flow and getting back to scheduled programming.

    I truly saw the last of my struggles begin to fade away on my journey while chanting, meditating, talking about my experience and again, yoga. We got personal yoga homework and mine was simple focused foot stretches, alternate nostril breathing, walking meditation and body scan meditating. It was all about focusing on self. The scan allows you to see a “picture” of yourself, or lack there of, and focus on the fuzzy parts to make a stronger picture. Meditating brings peace and clarity on the new and old you that now exist as one and has a new path. Alternate nostril breathing is like true magic, it gives calm and clarity with breathtaking results in connections to the stroke side (like steadier walking). The walking meditations and foot stretches brings focus on the most important and least connected since my stroke, the foot. Where walking either happens or not, witch everyone who has the ability to do forgets, similar to breathing. And doing these focusing activities you literally feel the connection get stronger, as if your focus got part shut off then only directed to one side, then you start to turn lights slowly on that dark side.

    But the one encompassing thing I have learned through yoga and recovery, listening to the body is key. I took all this new knowledge and experience and began my life as I imagined it and found the issues returning, because I was too busy. My newly recovering brain can’t handle too much stress or sickness and ultimately it shuts down. Physical activities bring fatigue but emotions, stress and too much on the go takes me away. I begin to limp, my face droops, I feel little to no emotion and I just hear silence in my head because it is all too much to process. Every body has it’s signals, us as stroke survivors need to listen, but even better we get to. Everyone gets tied up in day to day and self focus is the most important but the first to be forgotten and even the last to be noticed. I am thankful for my experience every day to remind me to check in with myself.

    Listen to your body, love yourself, move your body and breathe 💚 To quote Marianne, “everyone should look different in every pose, every time”. Everyone can do yoga, yoga is a mindfulness lifestyle, especially if they have had a stroke.

    💜 Sarah Joy

    sarahjoy.donegan@gmail.com

    • Flint

      Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment Sarah! Would you be interested in sharing more of your story on our blog as a featured guest post? I’ll send you an email! 🙂

  • Angela Ray

    My name is Angela and I suffered what’s called a silent stroke a week ago. At the age of 49, I was kind of scared. But while I do have some slight paralysis on my ride side, I feel blessed by the grace of GOD, that it wasn’t worse. I want to work on regaining some strength back in my arm and hand via yoga and came across this sight. So I’m looking forward to finding out more!