yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

If you have decided to become a yoga instructor for students who have had a previous stroke, there is much you should know about asana modifications and how to properly use props.  Specialized yoga teacher training and therapy are needed in order to give students the best attention and care.

A stroke can have devastating effects on the body. Victims can lose the ability to walk or even stand unassisted. Depending on which part of the brain the stroke affects, speech, balance, visual perception and memory can also be altered. Recent studies on the effects of yoga on stroke patients have shown positive results. Yoga helps patients regain balance and agility, and yoga can help patients release the negative emotions associated with this life-altering event.

Ideally, stroke patients should work with a yoga instructor who has been specifically trained with helping stroke recovery. Other options include physical or occupational therapists to show patients correct techniques and alert them of possible risks associated with some of the postures. Any yoga pose can be altered to accommodate patients who can’t walk, stand or sit. Poses can be done with props to hold up limbs or to aide in balance. As time goes on, balance and agility will improve, allowing patients to perform the poses with greater independence.

Triangle Pose

Triangle pose helps open the hips and also provides a nice stretch up both legs while lengthening the spine. In addition, it improves balance. Patients can modify the pose by using blocks to rest the bottom hand on. To begin, patients might keep the upper body upright while placing the feet appropriately. Patients can focus on reaching forward with the front arm while keeping the legs stable. If patients become adept at triangle pose, they can transition to half moon pose, which will further encourage balance.

Warrior Poses

All of the warrior poses will help encourage a grounded, stable body. Patients can begin with Warrior I and II. Once they are comfortable with those poses, they can try warrior III which will further enhance balance. If necessary, patients can grasp the back of a chair or the wall for support. Patients who wish to further challenge their selves can try to transition from warrior III into dancer pose to improve balance even more.

Boat Pose

Boat pose works wonders for the core muscles and improves balance and stability. Some students will have to do this in a chair and put their feet on another chair as a starting point.  Students with better mobility can sit on the floor and keep their legs bent at the knees as they gently rock back to find balance on the bottom. If patients want a further challenge, they can transition to full boat pose by extending the legs or they can grab both big toes in both big toe pose.

Beginner’s Sage

Sage pose strengthens the core and improves upper body strength. Patients can start by keeping the supporting arm on the mat and lifting only the hips off the mat. As balance improves, they can transition to the full beginner’s sage by holding the body up with one arm and one leg.

Side Notes for Yoga Instructors

One one point that may not be covered in a specialized yoga instructor training program is the pace of recovery.  Each student is different, but there will usually always be progress every 7 to 14 days.  Over the course of months, you will see  very noticeable progress.  Make sure your student is made aware of progress on the journey of recovery.  Positive reinforcement leads to positive states of mind, which leads to more progress.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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