Is yoga for spinal cord injury patients safe? Is it even possible?
This ancient practice has stood the test of time and been around for over 5,000 years. There’s got to be something to it, right?
This article will explain how spinal cord injury patients can benefit emotionally, physically, and mentally by practicing yoga.
Let’s get started!
Benefits of Yoga for Spinal Cord Injury
Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses deep breathing, meditation, and physical postures to cultivate self-awareness and well-being.
Yoga focuses on deep breathing to promote the flow of energy throughout your body.
Short, quick breaths will tire you out and trigger your body’s stress response.
In contrast, deep, steady breaths will relax your mind and soothe the body.
More oxygen to the brain can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
Deep breathing will boost circulation. The easier it is for oxygen-rich blood to flow throughout the body, the better your body will function.
This means better digestion, increased metabolic rate, improved energy levels, and a steady heart rate.
Taking the time to focus on your thoughts and emotions can really help promote mindfulness and self-compassion.
Repeating mantras will help reinforce positive energy. You’ll attract into your life the same type of energy you put out. Simply put, like attracts like.
Meditation helps you block out the stresses of the outside world and focus on yourself.
People who meditate regularly report improved:
- Feelings of belonging
- Sense of purpose
These psychological benefits can be especially helpful for spinal cord injury patients that are finding it difficult to accept the way their bodies have changed.
Meditation will help you focus on living in the present rather than grieving for the past.
Going about our everyday lives, our bodies get stiff and energy flow gets congested.
The positions you practice in yoga are designed to ease all that stiffness to promote free energy flow.
This helps gradually improve balance, endurance, flexibility, strength, and posture.
Yoga uses stretches and your own body weight to lengthen tight muscles, improve joint range of motion, and build strength.
Adapting Yoga for Spinal Cord Injury Patients
Spinal cord injury patients may worry about not being able to do the poses or hurting themselves.
The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor or physical therapist to get a comprehensive overview of your physical abilities and limitations.
Every spinal cord injury is unique, so not everyone with a spinal cord injury is going to be able to complete every pose, and that’s okay!
Generally, yoga is a safe, low-impact workout; however, if you don’t feel comfortable or safe trying any of the poses, don’t stress over it!
You know your body best, and adjusting the poses to your abilities will help make the experience less overwhelming or intimidating.
Spinal Cord Injury Patients’ Yoga Experiences
Check out the videos below to see how real spinal cord injury patients have benefitted through yoga!
Kevin’s spinal cord injury left him with paraplegia (paralysis in his legs) and for 40 years, he was unable to feel the entire outline of his legs until he tried yoga.
He proves that it’s never too late for recovery and that your mobility can improve, even years after not noticing any progress.
Joe’s C6-7 spinal cord injury resulted in quadriplegia (paralysis in the arms and legs).
He started yoga because he was sick of feeling so helpless at home.
Through yoga, he has become more in tune with his body and has improved his ability to transfer in and out of his wheelchair.
The Mind-Body Connection
After a spinal cord injury, you may feel out of sync with your body.
Yoga is all about promoting mind-body awareness and learning to accept yourself.
It can definitely help spinal cord injury patients learn how to adapt to life after injury and find fulfillment in the present.
To get started, check out the video below. This yoga routine is designed specifically for wheelchair users!
Practice what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t.
If you’ve been having difficulties coping since your spinal cord injury, consider giving yoga a shot.
It isn’t for everyone, but it’s relatively low-risk, and it’s emotional, psychological, and physical benefits make it worth trying at least once.