Researchers urge stroke survivors to focus on Yoga and Tai Chi

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Researchers find that yoga and tai chi are critical in reducing blood pressure, blood sugar levels, hypertension and fatty acids, which are all huge risk factors when it comes to strokes. 

Strokes are the leading cause of disability worldwide, claiming 6.2 million lives globally, each year. Strokes happen when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, which in turn can deplete or even kill brain cells. The effects of this unnervingly common disability are life altering and devastating, causing disruptions to speech, mobility, and even the way that we feel and think. The World Stroke Organisation has stated that each year, strokes kill more people than AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria put together. It is estimated that every two seconds, someone is having a stroke and that six people die from strokes every sixty seconds.

Strokes are a much bigger killer than most people think, with it being the second leading cause of death with people over the age of 60 and the fifth leading cause for people aged 15-59. With this information being known, it is so important for the population to work towards lessening their risk of stroke and being aware and educated on stroke prevention methods. Stroke prevention is particularly important with stroke survivors battling an increased risk in suffering a second one. It is 43% likely that a stroke survivor will suffer from another stroke within ten years and 32.7% likely within five years.

 High blood pressure is the leading risk factor in strokes, so in an effort to prevent potentially altering life forever, it is essential to keep our blood pressure at a healthy level. A study conducted by the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the University of South Australia has found that Yoga and Tai Chi are critical in reducing blood pressure, as well as blood sugar levels, hypertension and fatty acids, which are all huge risk factors when it comes to strokes.

Yoga and Tai Chi combine Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBI) with gentle and slow physical activity. Both mindfulness and exercise have vast impacts on preventing strokes, as well as supporting survivors and deterring recurring stroke patterns. Some of the studies which formed part of Universities’ research found that MBI’s regulate blood pressure and other risk factors by teaching people to breath deeply. Breathing deeply is a fantastic way to steady the nervous system and to lower the heart rate. This is a great fact to know, as one third of adults around the world suffer from high blood pressure.

The rehab program for stroke survivors focuses on building strength, balance and movement, focusing on the basic skills needed for daily living and working. Yoga and Tai Chi are great ways of combining meditation, balance-orientated poses and breathing, all of which are extremely beneficial in the rehabilitation process. Both remedial practices help in the recovery of the body’s gait and posture, which are commonly affected in stroke survivors. Both practices ensure longer steps and better coordination.

Yoga and Tai Chi is a great therapeutic tool used for stroke survivors and their recovery due to the intense focus and attention needed for both practices, this works on rewiring the brain through intense focus and attention to each deliberate movement and breath. They are also fantastic recovery tools as they can be modified to all stages of the recovery process. 

Before starting yoga as a rehabilitation step, talk to your Doctor or Therapist about whether it is safe for you at your point of recovery. A very important thing to remember about recovering from a stroke is to make sure that you do everything possible to prevent having another one. This is inclusive of therapeutic exercise as well as choosing a healthy diet and limiting smoking and excessive drinking.