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.
Eagle pose (Garudasana) helps improve balance and focus, as well as postural and body awareness. It stretches and strengthens your shoulders, upper back, thighs, and core. A grounding pose, eagle helps calm the central nervous system by crossing the midline both on the upper and lower body. It is a great pose to come to when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Traditionally done as a standing pose, eagle pose can easily be modified seated in a chair. While standing, it is a balancing pose, however, your arms are close to your body and your knees are bent, lowering your center of gravity, which makes this a great beginner balance pose.
- Begin by shifting your weight to your left foot. Lift your right foot up off the floor — you may either cross your right thigh over your left thigh, or you can simply place your right foot on the floor to the left of your left foot.
- Bring both arms straight out in front of you. Cross your left arm over the right arm. Draw your forearm together and wrap your right palm across your left, crossing at the wrists.
- Lift the elbows to the height of your shoulders while keeping the shoulder blades back and down, and your spine long with your head rising.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
- If you have a hard time balancing on one leg, try resting your backside (rear) on the wall.
- If your hands can’t reach each other, or you struggle crossing your arms, you can simply hold your arms up in front of you with the forearms touching and hands in a fist. Or you can cross your arms in front of you like you’re hugging yourself.
- If in a chair, simply cross your legs or ankles.
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