Yoga post-stroke shows benefit

I often talk about diet, nutrition, and exercise in this space. However, in my practice, I use a lot of different healing modalities that I often forget to tell you about. For instance, in the August issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, I wrote about NAET, a technique that can improve allergy symptoms, ADHD, inflammation and more. (If you haven’t signed up for the monthly newsletter, I certainly encourage you to do so, as there’s only so much I can write about here).

Today, I’d like to highlight yoga. Yoga is an amazing practice that has been around for centuries. It’s especially well-suited for older adults as a way to stay healthy and fit. And now new research highlights its potential.

It was a small study. But the results were clear. Participation in a group yoga session may help with stroke recovery.

Each patient had a history of stroke and had completed rehabilitative care. They then participated in eight weeks of group yoga classes (they met twice per week).

All yoga sessions were taught by a registered yoga therapist, and included seated, standing, and floor postures with relaxation and meditation.

At the end of the eight weeks, the patients taking yoga showed clinically meaningful improvements in balance. Patients also experienced improvement in motor function, independence, and quality of life.

How’s that for remarkable? Yet, I would bet none of the conventional medical doctors you know would recommend yoga or any other mind-body therapy. In fact, many Western-trained physicians turn skeptical and anxious anytime someone mentions a mind-body therapy. Which is crazy.

How bad could recommending yoga be? Especially when compared to the “acceptable” treatments they’re likely prescribing, like Coumadin or aspirin, without much of a second thought. Coumadin and aspirin are both ripe with side effects. Yet doctors don’t get anxious about those…because the drug companies and the “establishment” tell them it’s the right thing to do.

Lord help us!

This study suggests that yoga may be able to play an important role in regular rehabilitation programs and even long-term health management. Promoting better functional capacity, participation in activities of daily living, and quality of life.

The authors of the study included modified yoga postures, relaxation, and meditation. They focused on hip and ankle range of motion and strength to improve balance. Each week the classes got more and more challenging.

All yoga participants were physically able to do all yoga activities, and no injuries were sustained during the study. Balance improved significantly in all of those in the yoga arm of the study and the improvements were greater in those with baseline balance impairment.

Fewer patients in the yoga group said they were worried or concerned about falling, and a significant increase was seen in the number of patients identified as “independent.”

So, while I think exercise of any kind is important, many older people worry that they can’t do anything to improve their quality of life after a debilitating illness. This study once again shows there’s always hope.

“Poststroke Balance Improves With Yoga,” Stroke. 2012; 43: 2402-2407. Published online before print July 26, 2012.