Yoga and meditation for your brain.


I would like to support the brain injury community to improve and restore their well-being through yoga and meditation. My grandmother suffered a stroke at the age of 63 and didn't speak the last 7 years of her life. My mother also had a stroke when she was 55y.o.

I got a Hypoxia when I was 28y.o. Headaches and insomnia were the results of deprivation of oxygen to the brain. Hypoxia is one of the deadliest injuries. Even people who survive hypoxia may experience lifelong after effects.

Yoga has the potential to transform the well-being of those who experienced brain injury by improving their ability to strengthen and reconnect their mind and body. It can promote their acceptance of "what is" and help them recognise and appreciate their strengths, rather than focus on their perceived weaknesses. It encourages them to be aware of their limitations but also find their personal power. Yoga can help people living with brain injury to honour their condition without over identifying with it.

What is a brain injury?

Traumatic brain injury: an external blow or join to the head caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents, sport injuries or assault. Mild TBI (known as concussion) may affect brain cells temporarily, while more serious TBI can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. Nerve cells may stretch, tear or pull apart, making it difficult or impossible for the cells to send a messages from one part of the brain to another, and the rest of the body.

Stroke: blood supply to the brain is blocked (ischemic) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, often catalysed by high pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity. It normally affects one side of the brain.

Tumor: mass or abnormal growth of cells in the brain, which can begin in the brain or cancer can spread from the body to the brain.

Anoxia/Hypoxia: absence or reduction in oxygen supply to the brain due to heart attack, strangulation, poisoning, ect.

Traumatic brain injury.

Predicted to become the third leading cause of death and disability in the world by 2020

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. As many as two out of every three acquired their brain injury before the age of 25. Three-quarters of people with a brain injury are men.

Risk factors.TBI can occur at any age, but the people most at risk include children under 4 years of age, young adults (15 to 24 of age), adults age 60 and men.

Stroke

  • Second leading cause of death for people above the age 60 and a leading causing of disability.

  • Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.

  • Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.

  • In 2017 there were more than 56,000 new and recurrent strokes – that is one stroke every nine minutes.

  • More than 80% of strokes can be prevented.

  • This is predicted to increase to one million by 2050.

Risk factors. The risk of stroke increases with age-about two-thirds of strokes occurs among people 65 years of age or older.

If you experience any of these symptoms:

Physical: loss of coordination, trouble with balance, headaches, sleep problems, sensory disturbances (sensivity to sound, light, temperature, vision problems), chronic pain, numbness, spasticity, speech problem, hemiparesis, hemiplegia.

Cognitive: Attention, memory, speed of information processing, awareness.

Negative thought patterns can become deep and unconscious, often leading to anxiety and depression. We are in stress when we don't get what we want. We are in stress when we are afraid to lose what we already have.

Emotional dysregulation: Irritability

Anxiety

Depression

Anger

Organising, planning, decision-making

Yoga and meditation are brain exercises that engage different parts of the brain on the components of practice (breathing, movement, postures, chanting, visualisation, concentration) and can help the brain form new connections and recover from injuries.

Goals of meditation:

  • Improved concentration and awareness

  • Emotional regulation

  • Reduce anxiety, stress and reactivity

  • Mental flexibility and positive thinking

  • Reduce sleep disturbances

Just as your body is built from foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences you have. The brain changes moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day. The brain, like muscles in the body, can be strengthening and weakened depending on how it is used. What this means, especially for people recovering from brain injury, is that we each have the power to change how our brain operates, how efficiently it works, and the skills it can acquire. In a nutshell, we are promoting self-directed neuroplasticity.


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