Yoga therapy for stroke survivors can foster a better mind-body connection
Yoga can be a therapeutic addition to your stroke rehabilitation regimen. But don’t worry, we’re not talking about morphing your body into any crazy poses here. Instead, we’ll focus on the gentler, healing side of yoga that helps foster your mind-body connection. These healing yoga practices involve savasana, mindful walking, and pranayama. Let’s dive in.
Savasana, also known as corpse pose, is everyone’s favorite pose because all you have to do is lie on your back with your arms relaxed at your sides. Yep, just like a corpse! Sounds easy right? Well, the benefits go a little deeper than you’d think.
The restorative effects of savasana take place as you begin to clear your mind. Through this simple pose, you can quiet your internal chatter and let go of any negative and frustrating thoughts that often come up during the rehabilitation process.
While savasana might sound easy, it can get very difficult to quiet your mind. But once you begin to practice this restful meditation daily, you’ll find that you have less negative thoughts and a clearer outlook on life.
What’s the difference between walking and mindful walking? Well, the focus is on your thoughts (notice a trend here?). Instead of thinking about how long it will take to get to the finish line, try putting all of your attention into your movements. Notice how your toes lift off the ground or how your heel strikes the floor. And if you’re not there yet, then focus on other sensations that you can feel. By putting more focus and energy into your rehabilitation exercise, you’ll get much more out of it!
Pranayama is the ancient practice of breath control. There’s a specific type of pranayama that’s excellent for stroke survivors, and it’s called Anulom Vilom Pranayama (AVP), alternate nostril breathing. It might sound weird, and it will definitely feel weird the first time you try it, but AVP is great for stroke survivors as it focuses on connecting both sides of the body. Here’s an awesome WikiHow with pictures on how to do Anulom Vilom Pranayama (see method 3).
To practice this exercise, simply sit in a comfortable chair and clear your mind. Then, using any one of your fingers of your ‘good’ hand, plug your right nostril and breathe in through your left nostril. Take a full, deep breath. Then, plug the left nostril, release the right nostril, and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this process continuously, giving each side one full inhale and exhale.
This breathing technique can feel very strange at first, but with consistent practice you’ll get used to it. Start with a simple 1 minute session and work your way up from there.
And there you have it. No bendy poses necessary. Yoga therapy for stroke survivors can be as simple as connecting with your breath and fostering your mind-body connection. Have you tried any of these 3 yoga practices as a part of your stroke recovery? Leave a comment below with any feedback or advice that you have for other stroke survivors!