After a spinal cord injury it’s common to feel out of sync or disconnected from the body, as it restricts the body from performing certain movements to avoid straining the injury. This makes it rather difficult and imposes several barriers to those affected to lead an active lifestyle.
In fact, the loss of mobility associated with SCI is a major contributing factor influencing inactivity in people with spinal cord injury. This is why SCIs calls for a carefully curated exercise routine by a professional personal trainer who thoroughly understands the condition of your injury.
As debate continues to understand which type of workouts or exercises are best for SCIs, interestingly Yoga has been taking a special spotlight with this regard. Fitness experts have revealed insights that Yoga doesn’t just offer a healthy workout practice for those with SCIs but also helps in healing them, especially through these three primary methods.
Proper breathing (Pranayama), one of the 5 core principles of Yoga, contributes significantly to rehabilitation after spinal cord injury through several mechanisms. Involving in deep and steady breaths through
Yoga has the potential to activate your body’s relaxation response which in turn lowers blood pressure, increases metabolic rate for better digestion, stabilizes heart, and increases endorphins levels in the brain to reduce pain and increase energy. All these effects of practicing deep and steady breaths together reduces common post SCI symptoms like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
Higher levels of SCI limit primary respiratory muscles like diaphragm, intercostal muscles, and abdominals, causing respiratory troubles. Deep breaths can strengthen and expand the lung’s capacity to breathe in more oxygen thereby helping to combat any respiratory problems.
Positive thinking and meditation, another core principle of Yoga, is a mental component that focuses on strengthening the mind and letting individuals take ownership and accountability of their body.
Learning lifestyle changes and practicing them after a SCI can get overwhelming and stressful to accept. Personal trainers assure that meditating through Yoga after a spinal cord injury can improve mental health and make it easier to accept the situation and adapt accordingly. Taking control over your thoughts helps to organize and prioritize your recovery goal much more seamlessly.
Guided Yoga meditations can let you nurture self care, respect for all living things, recognize the blessings in life, purify the mind, body and speech, and most importantly detach yourself from a negative body image and traumatic past, which altogether lets you accept and embrace the present thoroughly.
Continuing to meditate on these values makes it easier for you to concentrate on your spinal cord injury rehabilitation phase.
If one unique thing yoga is known for its postures, or poses, which is known by the principle “Asanas”. When your body is involved in different postures it lengthens tight muscles, improves a range of motions in the joints, and builds strength. This supports the achievement of one of the main goals of spinal cord injury recovery which is to reteach your spinal cord, brain, and muscles to work in sync normally again by consistently moving weakened areas of the body.
Yoga posture usually involves repetitively moving the trunk and limbs in a variety of ways, preventing stiffness and stimulating the spinal cord. The consistent practice of stretching and moving the body will in turn reduce the excitability of hyperactive muscles thereby preventing the frequency of post-spinal cord injury spasms and pain
Yoga postures can be modified to be safe and effective depending on your spinal cord injury, its condition, and recovery state. They can be performed while sitting, lying down on a mat, or even on a wheelchair. However, because the outcomes of each spinal cord injury is different , it’s important to enroll in a professional yoga class guided by a trainer who can develop and guide you through posture modification that is suitable for your abilities.