Traumatic brain injury (TBI) recovery through yoga is usually not the first method thought of when considering different options of working through rehabilitation. This form of fitness can be preformed sitting in a chair, making yoga, and it’s benefits, available to everyone.
Yoga is perhaps one of the most beneficial exercises for the mind and body and is notably practiced by those who don’t suffer from TBI. However, what could it do for TBI sufferers?
1. Connects You With Others
Not everyone has the motivation to set up a mat, calming music, and start doing yoga at home – especially those who have just begun their TBI recovery process. The great thing about yoga is that it helps you connect with others, and perhaps even other people working through their own personal health or mental issues. Yoga classes are usually found everywhere today, and it’s much easier to attend a class than doing it at home where you don’t have the right mindset or motivation there to help. At a class, there is a professional yoga instructor to guide you, equipment is usually ready for you to borrow (mats), others in the class are there for you to gain motivation and confidence from, and you will probably even make a few friends who often go to the classes. Most end up looking forward to their next yoga class after they make it through the first one!
2. Challenges You Mentally & Physically
Yoga is not considered easy to master, but it can be practiced by everyone of any fitness level and capability, so it’s the perfect, stress-free exercise for TBI sufferers. It challenges you mentally through breathing with more awareness, becoming more mindful, relaxing your mind and eliminating toxic thoughts, stress, and emotions. Yoga also challenges you physically – a lot! After months of it, you’ll notice how much more flexible and balanced you have become. You’ll be able to do various poses that you only dreamed of doing when first starting.
3. Calm Your Mind & Embrace Optimism
The relaxation techniques used throughout yoga work to calm your mind and empower you to embrace optimistic thoughts and perspective. This helps to reduce headaches, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and can even help to improve the symptoms of schizophrenia and ADHD. Yoga also clears you of stress, relieve you of anxiety, and can possibly reduce inflammation, chronic pain, and promote sleep quality – all factors that can significantly impact the recovery process for TBI.
4. Regain Your Athletic Performance & Lose Weight
Just as swimming is usually an exercise for people with physical injuries to work on their mobility, yoga is a fantastic way to regain your athletic performance. If you are someone who was a fitness fanatic or used to regularly exercise prior to the TBI, yoga is perfect for easing back into it. It will get your body familiar with various movements again, and it will help reawaken your under-used muscles. After a traumatic brain injury, exercise is not picked up again straight away, and this can sometimes lead to weight increase. Depression, stress, and other mental-related issues following a traumatic brain injury can also contribute to weight gain. Yoga doesn’t just calm your mind and body. Depending on the intensity levels you work at, it can be an excellent way to lose weight, strengthen muscles, and tone your body. Even a simple downward dog pose can burn calories, and because it is such a relaxing workout, you won’t feel stress or pressured as you are doing it. This way, you can safely lose weight no matter what exercise level you are at.
5. Balances Your Mind & Body Together As One
Yoga has been used for centuries to find “inner balance.” What does that mean exactly? When conducted an interview with someone suffering from a traumatic brain injury Brent Kaufman, a physical therapist who implements yoga techniques into their recovery treatment protocalls said, “When you balance your breath, you balance your brain.” They talked about how yoga brings union of the physical body with the mental, emotional, spiritual, all of us, all of the world, and all of existence. That’s the start to recovery, and the most fascinating thing about yoga is that once you get comfortable and you think you’ve reached the peak, you are led to another level to explore – a “valley”, essentially. This technique made me quite interested in how yoga helps TBI recovery. The journey inward is something that should be experienced by those who get another chance to live again after their own traumatic brain injury. Yoga awakens your soul, alerts your senses and makes you grateful for life and living – to be thankful for that second chance and to inspire yourself to recover healthily and live prosperously.
6. Protects You From Future Injury
One of the most incredible and life-changing benefits of Yoga is becoming more self-aware. You begin to recognize more about how your body feels, the range of motion in joints, the shape of your body, and your breath.
Through this, you can understand more about your body and thus determine any potential imbalances and injuries before hurting yourself in the future.
Furthermore, because your mental awareness has increased, specifically through mindfulness, you are more likely to have better response and reaction times by being more aligned with your senses – which includes hearing, smelling, and touching.
This also contributes to the recovery of TBI by exercising your brain and keeping it stimulated.
On the physical side, because you are strengthening your muscles and bones, you are improving their health and preventing muscle, ligament and tendon breakdown.
The balance and agility acquired from yoga also help to minimize more clumsy actions like tripping, falling, or misjudgments.
Overall, you can see how fantastic Yoga is beneficially for traumatic brain injuries.
Once practiced consistently, you can expect the positives of weight reduction, relationships with others, balancing your mind and body, and the prevention of future injury.
Embrace the energy and vitality yoga offers and see how wonderful of aid it can be in the road to recovery.