Many people know the major benefits of yoga, like helping reduce depression and stress and boost immunity. It can also help in physical ways as well, such as reducing back pain, relieving tight or sore muscles and soothing aching joints. What about helping with a brain injury though? Many times, people who undergo traumatic brain injury can be left with tightness throughout the body, a lack of balance or decreased mobility. These physical aspects are all things that yoga can help with. So what can practicing yoga do to further help you heal from a brain injury?
Practicing Yoga with a Brain Injury Helps You…
Focus on Your Abilities Rather than Your Limitations
Yoga isn’t a competition between you and anyone else; it’s not even a competition between you and yourself. Go easy on yourself. Even if you have no prior knowledge of yoga and you go into it believing you need to take the “easiest” class, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish mentally and physically. Rather than berate ourselves over our edges or limitations, practicing yoga helps us see all of the things our minds and bodies can do.
After time, you may start to notice differences in your flexibility and strength. When you begin to see the potential in what your body can do, you start to be grateful for your abilities instead of judgmental of what you believe you lack. Confidence and optimism will flourish in an entirely new way.
Quiet the Mind
When your body finds movement and your mind focuses its attention on the body and what it’s feeling physically, attention is drawn away from the constant chattering of the mind. For those who’ve suffered a brain injury, you might feel how truly necessary it is to rest your brain. You may find that your brain rarely stops thinking and that it’s going a hundred different directions at once. By practicing yoga, meditating and engulfing yourself in some silence, you create space for your mind to release and become quiet, giving your thoughts the break they deserve. Your brain will really get to rest.
At times, the simple act of breathing can be forgotten. There are a whole host of different breathing techniques that benefit the body in unique ways.
Three-part breath allows the lungs to fill with breath and empty like a pitcher of water – on your inhale, expanding the belly first, then the rib cage, then the chest; and on your exhale, emptying first the chest, the rib cage and the belly. This breathing technique allows you to use the full capacity of your lungs, emptying all of the stale air from the bottom of the lungs so that new, fresh oxygen can rush in and give life to all of your organs.
Focusing on the breath is one of the best ways to truly quiet the mind. Breathing is what keeps us alive, what nourishes our organs and what soothes us in time of pain or chaos. It brings us back to center and grounds us when we feel we’ve lost all control.