YOGA: Stroke rehabilitation through Yoga

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By Geeta Maraj
January 29th, 2014 Edition

While yoga has become a general term used to describe a form of exercise geared to those with greater flexibility, there is much more to this magnificent art. Studies continue to show that yoga is beneficial in aiding stroke survivors improve their balance, flexibility, as well as, restore muscle strength and tone.

When a person suffers from a stroke, the brain is deprived of a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood which is vital to its efficient functioning. A stroke occurs as a result of a blockage or a break in one of the vessels which supplies blood to the brain. This creates damage to the fragile brain tissue, and depending on where this occurs, various limitations to the body is the resulting factor.

The consequences of a stroke can be paralysis on one side of the body, speech impediment, and difficulty with memory, coordination and association of ideas. More so, stroke victims often suffer from balance issues which result in a greater risk of falling and bone injuries.

Routinely, after a stroke, there is a rehabilitation program in which the sufferer is enrolled, so as to improve balance, coordination and muscular tone. Adding a yoga routine to help with rehabilitation can greatly enhance recovery rate. Yoga not only tones and stretches specific muscles that are affected but also helps with emotional and psychological recovery. The latter is mainly through a variety of breathing and relaxation routines.

Always seek your doctor’s consent before starting a yoga routine as some yoga stretches should be avoided based on the victim’s health status. Equally, seek a yoga therapist who is qualified to render such therapy. Most often, such a routine requires a personal yoga therapist as there are not many yoga classes geared solely to victims of stroke.

Also of importance is finding ways to prevent a second stroke from ever occurring. Depending on the type of stroke from which one has suffered, the preventative measures differ. However the basics for preventing a stroke in the first place, or have a recurrence of a stroke includes: not smoking, control of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a healthy diet, and having a balance between work and leisure time.

There are a number of exercises in yoga which help to tone the facial muscles after a stroke. These exercises can be routinely performed whether you have had a stroke or not, for they help to strengthen the facial muscles. As we get older, it is equally important to strengthen the extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the tongue. The extrinsic muscles help the tongue move up and down, from side

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