Rehab Yoga

Rehab one on one Yoga – Body and Mind 

Yoga may aid stroke recovery:
POSTED JULY 28, 2012, 10:05 AM
Reena Pande, M.D., Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Reena Pande, M.D.

Hand in yoga pose

We tend to think of yoga as exercise for youthful, limber folks. A new study from Indianapolis suggests it may also help older stroke survivors improve their balance and become more active.
Thanks to medical advances in detecting and treating stroke, the risk of dying from one is lower now than it used to be. Unfortunately, many stroke survivors are left with a disability. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States.
A stroke (or “brain attack”) occurs when part of the brain stops getting the steady supply of oxygen-rich blood it needs. This can happen because of a blockage in a vessel supplying blood to the brain, or because a blood vessel in the brain breaks. Either way, the shut-off damages fragile brain tissue.
The effect of the damage depends on what part of the brain is affected. A stroke can interfere with speech, cause memory problems, or affect the movement of the arms or legs on one side of the body. Stroke also can lead to difficulty with balance and increase the risk of falls.
After a stroke, one goal of rehabilitation is to limit long-term disability. Rehabilitation programs include physical therapists to help improve strength, balance and movement, occupational therapists to work on skills need for daily living and work, and other professionals. Starting rehabilitation soon after a stroke can help improve function.
The new research from Indianapolis, which was published online in the journal Stroke,suggests that adding yoga to stroke rehabilitation may improve recovery. Yoga is a combination of poses, breathing, and meditation.
In this study, 47 mostly male stroke survivors treated at a Veterans Hospital were divided into three groups. Some took part in a twice weekly group yoga session for eight weeks. Others did the same thing, but with an at-home relaxation component. And some received standard follow-up but no yoga. All had previously completed a stroke rehabilitation program. There were several benefits in the yoga group, including:

  • Improved balance
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced fear of falling
  • Better independence with daily activities

Although small, this study adds to findings from other research that yoga may help stroke survivors in several ways.

Adding yoga

If you or a family member has had a stroke, yoga isn’t the first step toward recovery. Instead, consider starting a rehabilitation program as soon as your doctor says it is safe. This can speed your recovery and limit long-term disability. Once that is under way, if you want to do more, think about adding some yoga.
Before starting, talk to your doctor or therapist about whether yoga is safe for you. One thing to discuss is whether any common yoga poses might pose problems for you.
Another important part of recovering from a stroke is preventing a second one. Reducing your risk depends on what kind of stroke you had and what might have led to it. But there are some basic things that all stroke survivors can do.

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Control your cholesterol.
  • Choose a healthy diet.
  • Make sure you are on the right medicines for preventing another stroke. Each case is different, so it is important to discuss this with your own doctor.

Rehab Yoga client, who came in after stroke that had impacted her right side severely and her speech as well :

The son of a 59 year old woman had approached me in 2011 for his mother, who had gone through a stroke followed by another stroke, leaving her very close to being paralyzed on the right side of her body. She had spent 6 months with a physical therapist with some improvement, when the PT told her that “this is all we can do for you!” When she came to me she could not walk very well and was walking with a cane. Her speech was also not clear. She could hardly lift her arm, and all her muscles were very weak.

I met her, evaluated her and saw her wonderful attitude. I told her and her son, “Let no man tell you that this is it! The Power above will decide what is possible and what is not!” She told me she wanted to travel, and I told her, “Of course you will!”
And I took her in as a one on one Rehab Yoga client. In just a few months, she was walking criss-cross, she was able to take her arms on her back, lift her legs and exercise with weights. Her speech had improved, which had also been compromised. She traveled to another country with her son! I met her local San Ramon doctor and this is what she had to tell me, “She has been transformed. When before she would hardly open her mouth and let her son do all the talking, she can’t wait to talk! Her eyes are sparkling.”Yes I was grateful that God sent her to me and how I impacted her life. Yes it is all possible. All one needs to have is faith. ♥

My personal experience with Rehab Yoga:
Yoga became a critical word for me when as a result of my training, consistent practice and teaching 7 days a week in conjunction with proper nutrition and brisk walks in fresh air transformed my body and mind in ways I could only wonder at. Physical issues that I had been facing – lower back pain, beginnings of arthritis in my right hand and right knee, overall stress and tiredness in my entire being, and inability to sleep deeply – disappeared leaving my doctor amazed. It struck me that whenever I was injured in any way – car accident, slips and falls and other bumps along the way – my recovery time had accelerated and I regained my strength in no time at all. That is when I became re-affirmed with the subject “Rehab Yoga.”

In 2011, when a big lab crashed into my left knee at the dog park, I was in a lot of pain. I had gone to the physician to confirm that the pain in my left knee did not point to anything beyond muscle stress in my left leg as a whole, and he recommended yoga stretches for me! When I told him that I was a certified yoga instructor myself, he said, “In that case I will not send you to a physical therapist!” Rehab yoga stretches did wonders for me and in conjunction with chiropractic care, I was as good as new in no time at all. Throughout my injury, I was still teaching my regular yoga classes – with modified poses for myself – and still working with my stroke patient, using rehab yoga poses to accelerate her own progress!

What is Rehab Yoga?
Rehab Yoga is fundamentally different in its approach to injury from conventional medicine. It is in fact a holistic therapeutic complement to the traditional methods used to treat patients suffering from injury, strokes, and other body ailments. Rehab Yoga is used as an adjunct to the conventional the regime from a physical therapist. Rather than isolating the focus on the injury itself with a specific cure, Rehab Yoga has a holistic approach to the entire body – it aims to treat the body as a whole, by using the body’s natural healing mechanism on all levels. Modified yoga asanas/poses are used to relax, stretch and strengthen the ligaments, muscles and joints, as well as to massage the internal organs in such a way that the body’s natural resources become active, and not only do the injured body parts heal but the entire body strengthens. Together with pranayama/controlled breathing techniques, oxygenated blood is directed to the injured parts accelerating the healing progress.

When should Rehab Yoga  be used to recover from injuries?
Consultation with your own doctor is needed for any injury so that the extent of the injury is known as well as correct rehabilitation methods and treatments are discussed prior to Rehab Yoga at Wellness Haven Yoga Studio.

  • We accept those patients who have been recommended by their doctors to go for Rehab Yoga.
  • We also accept those patients who have undergone sessions under physical therapists and are at a standstill with what to do next to accelerate progress of their not-completely-healed-body.
  • It is for those patients who want to accelerate their healing process.
  • It is also for those who are not injured but have weak muscles, bones and joints.
  • It is for the elderly who want to lead an active life.

We want our clients to progress from Rehab Yoga sessions into a beginner yoga class to continue the strengthening process. A beginner yoga class is recommended for all ages to lead a healthy and active life.

How do Yoga Asanas/Poses support and accelerate the body’s natural recovery and healing process?
Our body has tremendous capacity to heal naturally. The yoga stretches are able to exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body and accelerate the natural healing process. Such repetitive stretches when done consistently strengthen the muscles, make the bones healthier, invigorate internal organs, increase blood circulation and lung capacity, stimulate the glands, drain the lymphatic system and make the body disease free by strengthening the immune system. The body’s natural defense system is heightened and the body becomes stronger in every possible way. Rehab Yoga uses modified asanas/poses to gently treat a wide variety of body injuries. They also serve in reducing the pain from injuries as the body starts to heal and produce the endorphins naturally.

At Wellness Haven Yoga Studio we do special fully hands-on, one on one, hour long sessions using gentle Rehab Yoga Poses and stretches, breathing and meditative techniques, body strengthening exercises using low weight dumbbells, straps against the wall and on the chair, to enable you to become an active participant in your life in a wholesome way. We welcome miracles and there is never any reason to believe that you will not recover fully with regular Rehab Yoga  sessions! We will evaluate you, work with you and track your progress. Besides our hands-on sessions, you will be given stretches to continue the practice in your own home environment whenever it is possible for you to do so.

Please contact us (phone/email) if you or your loved one or someone you know is interested in accelerating recovery from strokes, injuries or weakened muscles. We recommend that you have discussed this form of treatment with your doctor first.
We are with you in your health.


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