Yoga is emerging as a popular discipline to prevent chronic diseases, including stroke. Managing stress with relaxing practice like yoga keeps blood pressure and cholesterol in check and maintain a healthy weight, which ultimately helps lower the risk of stroke. Yoga has also been shown to improve cognition and boost mood – essential factors that help an individual with stroke prevention.
Few medical conditions such as Diabetes, Sleep Apnea and certain heart diseases that make a person more prone to stroke can also be regulated by Yoga. Complex, progressively challenging activities like Yoga help the brain prevent a stroke and improve quality of life.
Yoga is a discipline of Asanas, Pranayama and meditation which provides relaxation and a holistic lifestyle practice. With Pranayama, Yoga offers improved confidence and self-efficacy. The calming effect of Yoga may lessen perceived stress, enhance relaxation and sleep for better stroke prevention. On the other hand, Yoga poses bring flexibility, balance, self-awareness, and strength to take on day-to-day activities.
Asanas or yoga poses help with physical conditioning like balance, flexibility, etc. Balancing postures can help immensely in stroke prevention. Since Asanas require isometric contraction of specific muscle groups to stabilize the body, they can be helpful in improving muscular strength.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Staff Pose (Dandasana), Warrior Pose (Veerbhadrasana), Monkey Pose (Markatasana), relaxation poses such as Corpse Pose (Savasana), Crocodile Pose (Makrasana) are commonly prescribed to beginners. Experienced beginners are advised to practice Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Chair Pose (Utkatasana), Locust Pose (Shalabhasana) and Triangle Pose (Trikonasana). Inverted postures like Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) should be performed under expert supervision. One is suggested to keep breath long, deep and gentle as he performs these Asanas.
Pranayama or yogic breathing can speed up recovery or prevent a stroke altogether if practiced regularly and correctly. It helps in developing mindfulness and setting the mind-body connection. By maximizing the capacity of breath, one takes in more oxygen and allows more oxygen to be available to the brain tissues.
Pranayama that are commonly prescribed for stroke prevention includes Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama), Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama) and Cooling Breath (Shitali Pranayama).
Meditation relaxes the brain and in turn, gives it an opportunity to think clearly and promotes better sleep resulting in stroke prevention. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditative, relaxation, visualization and mindfulness practice to resolve common sleep disorders. Since inadequate sleep is associated with stroke, practicing Yoga Nidra contributes to stroke protection and better stress management.