Our second blog by Margaret Hencke – “Stroke Survivors Yoga”
AN EXPERIENCE OF THERAPEUTIC YOGA
The first yoga class I attended, many years ago in Wales, was taught by someone who had, himself, been taught by an ex- miner who had used Yoga to recover from crush injuries sustained in a serious mining accident. The idea that Yoga could be a means of rehabilitation was not, therefore, new when the local organiser of the Stroke Association suggested I might like to join an adapted Yoga class as part of my rehabilitation from a major stroke. I was delighted to have the opportunity. Since that first experience of Yoga, I had attended a Yoga class wherever and whenever I could. The physical exercise was not the only benefit. I also enjoyed the breathing and relaxation and felt very much in tune with the spiritual basis of the practice.
When I joined this particular class, I had recovered quite well from the initial effects of the stroke but still had problems with balance, co-ordination and skilled movement . I was still plagued by what is known as “neurological fatigue” and by something it is difficult to define: a pervasive feeling of being disconnected from my body which indeed I was. I felt sure that Yoga would address this. I wasn’t disappointed. From the beginning we were told that the breath connected the mind with the body which made perfect sense to me. It was this which distinguished Yoga from the physiotherapy I was, and still am, receiving. I have been struck many times by how close the physical exercise is to the intensive neuro-physiotherapy I have had..
However, there is a different dimension in Yoga. There is also a different approach to physical exercise which I personally welcome. Although demanding, there is no sense of strain or competition. Rather there is a feeling of support and encouragement which is enabling and reassuring.
This may have something to do with the class as a group who , led by Stacey, are understanding and supportive of each other.
Recently we have been helped to cope with the an xiety which we all, to some extent, share as a result of experiencing stroke. For me this culminated recently in coping well with an MRI scan despite being claustrophobic.
One unexpected spin-off from the class has been that my husband – initially attending as my carer/companion, has joined in the class, finding it has helped recovery from an old shoulder injury. It has, therefore, become something we enjoy together-and one of the few positive outcomes of my stroke: something we both value.