Everyone knows yoga reduces stress, improves sleep and boosts immunity – but what those recovering from a brain injury? Can it help them too? According to loveyourbrain.org, 2.7 million people suffer from brain injuries every year. And if the injury is not debilitating enough, the involved in rehabilitation can be.
Yoga has long been a source of therapy for depression, back pain, sciatica and now brain injury. Brain injuries leave most with decreased mobility, rigid muscles, and trouble with balance. The effects of a traumatic brain injury do not end there. Beyond the physical limitations, there are also emotional and mental challenges that are associated with brain injuries. These hurdles can be the most challenging to overcome, as well as the most debilitating. This is when yoga can be beneficial. Yoga is an all-encompassing exercise that improves the connection between mind and body. Yoga uses a series of stretches and breathing exercises to strengthen and improve mobility, with the powerful benefit of building self-confidence and self-control.
Yoga teaches the brain injury survivor to focus on strength-building and to discover their abilities rather than focus on their limitations. Some have found that this form of exercise also centers and quiets the mind and in so doing, eases the stress and anxiety associated with a traumatic brain injury. Following a regular yoga regimen can the brain injury survivor build a platform on which to succeed by increasing muscle strength and flexibility, and is believed to increase an attitude of optimism, confidence and balance.
As reported in an article in Yoga Journal, Pro-snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s Olympic dreams were dashed during practice run in 2009 when he crashed into an icy half-pipe. The accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury which left him suffering from various symptoms, including mood swings and difficulties with his memory and vision. The vision problems made it necessary for him to wear glasses. The journal reports that after he attended his first yoga class, he experienced a significant change. At the end of the class he found that he no longer needed the glasses he had been forced to wear for prior five years. The healing and improvement he received from practicing yoga inspired him, along with the help of his brother, to create the LoveYourBrain Foundation.
The LoveYourBrain Foundation has the mission to improve the quality of life for brain injury survivors. They believe yoga to be a lifeline for those living with brain injuries and are spreading the word throughout the health community about the positive benefits of yoga for brain injury patients.