by Amy Zellmer, Editor-in-chief
Yoga is a powerful tool for recovery after brain injury. Contrary to some beliefs, everyone can do yoga — you don’t need to be super flexible, be able to balance, or even be able to stand up. The beauty of yoga is that every pose can be modified to accommodate anyone.
An important aspect of yoga is your breath. Connecting your breath to your body and getting oxygen flowing to your brain makes yoga powerful for recovery. Yoga also quiets the mind and lets anxiety and distracting thoughts drift away.
Bird dog pose (Parsva Balasana) helps strengthen and stabilize the core, strengthen the low back, enhance your ability to balance, and boost brain function through the use of contralateral relationships between the arms and legs.
As a core stabilizer, bird dog is easier on your back than crunches or sit-ups. The pose also engages the hyoid bone — a small bone at the top of your throat used for swallowing and also helping determine our posture.
- Begin on your hands and knees. You may wish to place a yoga blanket under your knees for extra padding.
- As you inhale, extend your right arm forward, straightening your elbow (be careful not to hyperextend). At the same time, extend your left leg straight back without lifting your leg above your pelvis (which can cause stress on your lower back).
- Stay for a few breaths.
- As you exhale, bring your hand and knee back to the mat.
- Repeat on the other side.
- If you notice your pelvis tipping or your weight shifting as you lift your leg, keep your foot on the floor with the knee extended instead of bringing it up.
- You may wish to come to child’s pose in between sides.
- If you would like to practice bird dog pose in a chair, simply bring the right arm overhead, and the left leg out in front and follow the rest of the steps above.
Join me for monthly yoga classes via zoom for only $10 a month: www.patreon.com/amyzellmer