Yoga for Stroke Rehabilitation

Yoga during stroke rehabilitation primarily focuses on two impairments caused after stroke – difficulty with balance and one-sided weakness. Research indicates that adding Yoga, which combines dynamic and static poses, breathing and meditation, to stroke rehabilitation may improve recovery.

Several benefits of practicing Yoga after stroke include improved balance, reduced fear of falling and better independence with daily activities. Yoga has also been shown to improve cognition, boost mood, and reduce stress – essential factors that help a stroke victim with speedy stroke recovery and stroke prevention. Complex, progressively challenging activities like Yoga help the brain and the body readjust after a stroke and improve quality of life.

The psychosocial benefits associated with Yoga hold great significance. With Pranayama, Yoga offers improved confidence and self-efficacy. The calming effect of Yoga may lessen perceived stress, enhance relaxation and sleep in stroke survivors. With improving the sense of well-being among stroke survivors, Pranayama saves them from slipping into clinical depression and anxiety.

Just like other rehabilitation therapy for Stroke, Yoga Therapy has to be individualized in order to yield best results.  

How does Yoga for stroke work?

The issue of mobility has important implications for falls after stroke. According to the study, nearly three-quarters of all stroke survivors suffer from falls. The fear of falling often limit stroke survivors’ social interaction and can also contribute to depression. Various research studies mention that Yoga improves balance and reduces the fear of falling. Standing Yoga can improve functional mobility targeting the hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar flexor.

Since Yoga postures require isometric contraction of specific muscle groups to stabilize the body, they can be helpful in improving muscular strength.

Yoga practices that involve sound chanting can be effective in gait training by providing a steady rhythm for gait and stride. Many studies document that movement with music improves walking endurance, the range of motion, strength and hand coordination.

Commonly prescribed Yoga Asana

Modifying standing poses, such as Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose) and Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) can help stroke victims in speedy stroke recovery.  Many postures like Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana) improve balance and flexibility.

Initially, the patients can practise Ardha Adho Mukha Svanasana (Half Downward-Facing Dog Pose) at the wall. As strength and balance develop, they may go for standing poses against a wall or try poses such as Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle) and Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle).

Starting Yoga may improve the balance of stroke survivors. Practicing seated, standing and floor-based exercises such as the Pigeon Pose and the Mountain Pose over the eight-week period significantly improve balance.