Yoga Teacher Training for Stroke Rehabilitation

By Faye Martins

There is a need for therapeutic Yoga teacher training courses for a variety of ailments, diseases and disabilities. Medicine and science are beginning to take note of Yogic methodology as a form of therapy for patients recovering from strokes. Scientists only recently discovered the brain has the ability to rewire its circuits. While this is good news for trauma and stroke victims, conventional wisdom and insurance companies still favor the old belief that improvement stops after the first six to twelve months. Change won’t come easily, but researchers say Yoga training could hold the key to affordable long-term intervention.

Strokes occur when a blood vessel bleeds or becomes blocked, and initial care varies depending on cause, location and severity. Partial paralysis one side of the body is a common symptom. Other than retraining the patient to walk or perform other functions during the first year, care is minimal.

Led by Arlene Schmid, assistant professor at Indiana University, occupational therapists recruited 47 stroke patients to see if Yoga could help those who had already passed the standard six-month mark for rehabilitation. In a random study of three groups, two of which practiced Yoga and one that continued usual routines, results were encouraging.

Those who participated in classes, organized by a certified Yoga teacher, in which exercises slowly became more complex, also experienced gradual improvement in their symptoms. As their balance improved, participants became less afraid of falling, more confident, more independent, and more connected to other people.

Around 75 percent of people who have strokes suffer from falls, and depression is common. Researchers know that Yoga training helps to improve balance and mood. The journal “Stroke” says the practice may also encourage the brain to function more effectively by requiring it to complete a series of actions at the same time: postures, breathing techniques and meditation.

According to neurologists and other medical providers, there is a shortage of qualified Yoga instructors for stroke patients, particularly in some parts of the country. Due to the causes of the condition and its effects vary so greatly, the demand for Yoga teachers who understand the risks and benefits of the practice and know how to tailor regimens for individual patients is growing.

Although certain poses, such as inversions or those that involve the neck, are contraindicated in many cases, there are many postures, especially those done with a chair or other supports, that even people with paralysis can do. No matter how much time has passed since the stroke, however, medical approval and a slow pace are prerequisites for any new exercise program.

A mixture of anxiety and fear usually accompanies strokes. Yoga training calms the nervous system, reduces the flow of harmful hormones, and releases endorphins, improving physical and mental health. Classes also offer an opportunity for students to share and interact with other people going through the same experiences.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Yoga for the Central Nervous System

By Sanjeev Patel

The central nervous system is one system of the body that we don’t give much consideration to. However, without it we could not function. The nervous system controls how our entire body works. It sends messages through our body telling which muscles to work for what purpose, and alerts us if there is pain somewhere. The brain is the control center of it all, sending and receiving messages from the sensory receptors. These receptors are like tiny workers that report back to the main office. The reports allow the brain to choose what to do with the muscles, organs, and the rest of your body. This miracle of a body that we have depends on us to keep it going, which is why yoga is very important when it comes to our nervous system.

How Yoga Helps the Nervous System

Yoga training helps improve many functions of the body. It keeps joints moving correctly, which lets the brain know to send necessary nutrients their way. In short, yoga exercises our sensory receptors and keeping the receptors active keeps them healthy. If you do not work the receptors, they shut down. Just think of that old saying that still rings true, “Use it or lose it.” Yoga asanas flex and release the nerves allowing us to feel calm and more centered. It is believed the stretching of these nerves releases toxins that build up in the tissues.

Best Asanas to Stimulate the Nervous System

Since the spinal cord is connected directly to the brain, some of the best asana are those that stretch the spine. In all honesty, most all yoga will stimulate your nervous system but for a quick charge, or to educate students on how yoga helps this way go for the spinal asana.

  • Downward Dog – stretches the back, clears the mind.
  • Spinal Twist – calms the system, releases toxins.
  • Cobra Pose – relieves pressure to nerves that come off of the spine.
  • Child’s Pose – gently stretches the spine and calms the mind.
  • Forward Bend – extends the tissues of the back, and grounds you.

Many underlying issues can be traced to the nervous system, whether they are related to focus, stress, and anxiety or to bodily function. By using yoga as an alternative medicine you can have your body back to functioning as it should, and be back en route to feeling better.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division