How Yoga Instructors Can Use Pranayama to Help Stroke Recovery?

By Faye Martins

Getting plenty of rest is one of the most important factors in stroke recovery. Yet, sleep disorders are one of the most common side effects suffered by victims. According to the National Stroke Association, there are ways to improve the quality of sleep and facilitate the rehabilitation process.

Three Facts about Strokes and Yoga Breathing

  • Two of every three stroke victims suffer from sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB, resulting in blood clots, stress on the heart and high blood pressure. Sleep apnea is the most common of these.
  • As many as 40 percent of stroke victims have breathing difficulties related to circadian rhythm, or the inability to relate sleep patterns to night and day.
  • Insomnia is also common among people who are recovering from strokes. The inability to sleep frequently requires medical intervention or behavioral changes.

Strokes often leave their victims with physical effects like speech problems, insomnia, paralysis and impaired thinking. Depression, anxiety, fear of the future and feelings of helplessness are also common. Not only do physical problems affect mental health, but mental health also affects physical recovery.

Controlled Yogic breathing, also called Pranayama, helps to stop the endless cycle of physical and mental deterioration during the recovery process. Taken from the Sanskrit “pran” for life force and “yama” for correct way, Yogic breathing techniques connect the mind and body, allowing the lungs and heart to communicate with the brain for the restoration of optimal health.

12 Benefits of Pranayama in Stroke Recovery

  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Brings clarity and improves memory
  • Promotes physical and mental relaxation
  • Reduces strain on the heart
  • Synchronizes breath rate and blood pressure
  • Increases stamina
  • Supplies organs with oxygen
  • Relaxes muscles and reduces tension
  • Promotes physical and mental relaxation
  • Increases circulation and removes blood clots
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps to maintain healthy weight

The practice of pranayama includes techniques ranging from gentle to intense, and every person has different needs and abilities. Patients who are recovering from strokes should consult a medical doctor before undertaking a new exercise or breathing program. Well-trained Yoga teachers can safely guide students through a gradual process that makes their rehabilitation easier and more pleasant. Pranayama may also keep people healthy and prevent future health problems.

Advice for Yoga Instructors

If you were not paying attention during your Yoga teacher training course, it’s time to practice with your peers again. Specialized workshops and brief Yoga instructor certification intensives are available for mastering pranayama. There are many books and some videos that can help you research Yogic breathing techniques. Continuing education and honest self-evaluation is an important part of becoming a Yoga instructor.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division