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, have great balance, or even be able to stand up. The beauty of yoga is that every pose can be modified so that anyone can be accommodated.
An important aspect of yoga is your breath. Connecting your breath to your body and flow, and getting oxygen flowing to your brain, is what makes it so powerful for recovery. Yoga is also a time to quiet the mind, to let anxiety and distracting thoughts drift away.
Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) is a standing pose that increases endurance and stamina. In Sanskrit the word “utthita” means “extended,” the word “parsva” means “side,” the word “kona” means “angle,” and “asana” means “pose.”
Some of its many physical benefits include the stretching of legs, knees, hips, and ankles. It also stretches your groin, back, spine, waist, ankles, and shoulders. Energetically this pose balances the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras. Practicing this pose can help you feel stable, connected, powerful, and help to balance your emotions.
- Start in Warrior II pose with your right foot forward.
- Reach your right arm toward the top of your mat, extending through the sides of your torso. When you have reached as far as you can, lower your right hand and lift your left hand toward the ceiling, both palms facing the left side of your mat.
- Draw both shoulders away from your ears. Square your shoulders to the left side of your mat.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths, then return to Warrior II and release. Repeat on the other side.
- Adjustments and modifications:
• Rest your forearm on the top of your front thigh (pictured above).
- • Place a block under your bottom hand to bring the ground closer to you.
- • Keep your gaze forward or down to the floor to invite more space in the neck.
If you are interested in learning more about yoga, check out
www.loveyourbrain.com and their yoga programs throughout the U.S. at partner studios, which are completely free to brain injury survivors and caregivers.
Amy Zellmer is an award winning author, keynote speaker, and TBI survivor and advocate. She is Editor-in-chief of The Brain Health Magazine, and hosts the Faces of TBI podcast series, as well as TBI TV on YouTube.