Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the US, and those who survive are often left feeling weak, vulnerable and exceptionally aware of the frailty of the human body. The post-state of having a stroke is a much a mental battle as it is physical. Studies have found that up to 25% of patients who have recently suffered a stroke also exhibit signs of depression within two years.
In short, it’s not just having a stroke is one of the most horrific experiences a person can go through, the after effects can be just as hard to cope with. We are not telling you this to scare you, but sharing these facts on World Stroke Day is just a part of spreading the awareness that is needed to support both prevention and recovery resources.
Helping people obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle is one of our primary goals here at Zebra Athletics, and it’s why we are focusing on how yoga can help prevent strokes and aid in a person’s recovery.
Yoga for Stroke Prevention
Over the last few years a rather frustrating stereotype has built up around the yoga industry – the impression that yoga is solely for the currently only young, slender, flexible and healthy. Well, that’s not exactly our experience with it so along with our many customers, we are here to smash that untruth. Despite the hype and the impression a review of Instagram might give you, we encourage you to take a look at the people unrolling a mat on the yoga floor next to you. It really doesn’t seem to matter the format, at just about any class you’ll see yogis of all ages, body types and backgrounds, and that’s awesome!
Awesome because it’s not just for the young, flexible and healthy. Yoga, in fact, has many (if not more) benefits for both older and heavier people — those who are most at risk for strokes.
Strokes are most often caused when the arteries leading to a person’s brain begin to narrow or become blocked. The reduction of blood being sent to the brain deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients, which is why the condition is so dangerous.
When practiced regularly, yoga can increase the flow of blood as well as the levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells. These allow for more oxygen to reach cells, ultimately enhancing their function. Practicing yoga, like many other physical activities, can also have a slight thinning effect on the blood, which helps decrease the risk of stroke and the chance of blood clots forming.
Yoga for Stroke Recovery
Didn’t find yoga soon enough to help prevent your heart attack? It can still help! Growing evidence shows that adding yoga to a stroke recovery program can help patients both mentally and physically.*
Consistent yoga practice leads to:
- Increased mood stability, less irritability
- Increased attentiveness
- Improved energy levels
- Improved self-confidence
- A generally more optimistic outlook on life
Studies have also shown that yoga can also reduce the levels of monamine oxidase, which is an enzyme that removes dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers) from the brain.
In the most simple of terms, yoga makes you a happier, more confident person!
*If you’ve recently suffered from a stroke, consult with your doctor before practicing yoga.