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Chair Yoga For Stroke Patients

A List Of Basic Chair Yoga Poses

Chair Yoga for Stroke Survivors

Once you begin to think of chair yoga poses in terms of directional movement of the spine, it becomes much easier to both structure your yoga practices and make pose selections. All you have to do is choose couple of poses in each category from the list below and then arrange them according to this template. Once the basic structure is in place you can add layers of movement variations, breathing patterns, and focus points and voilĂ  your practice is ready!

All chair yoga poses below are included in Sequence Wiz database and can be used to design your unique yoga practices.

Accessible For All Stroke Patients

Yoga is also helpful for stroke patients because it can betailored to almost any stage of recovery.

Even ifyou have post-stroke paralysis, you can start with meditation and mental practice. These practices do not require any movement you can do them from bed.


As you work on recoveryfrom post-stroke paralysis, perhaps you regain some mobility.

From there, you can try chair yoga or use props to support your poses.

Heres a chair yoga flow demonstrated by a stroke survivor whocredits yoga to her amazing recovery.

Additionally, even if your stroke affected you more cognitively than physically, yoga may still be able to assist in your recovery process. Practicing yoga requires sustained attention, sequencing skills, and potentially even problem-solving abilities, all of which could be affected by a stroke. Frequently participating in activities, such as yoga, that require these higher-level cognitive skills facilitates improvements in these areas through the brains neuroplasticity.

For survivors of an occipital lobe stroke, who may have developed visual impairments, practicing yoga can provide an opportunity to encourage individuals to utilize newly learned compensatory techniques. For example, the visual demands of yoga, from watching the instructor move throughout the room to examining ones own positioning, would allow those with a visual field deficit to practice scanning techniques throughout the session.


Yoga is great for helping with many aspects of stroke recovery.

Reminds You To Breathe While You Exercise

Breathing is important during all forms of exercises especially rehabilitation exercise.

However, when stroke patients struggle with movement, sometimes they may hold their breath without realizing it. This limits the amount of oxygen available to the body and brain, which isnt good especially during rehabilitation.

Fortunately, yoga places a heavy emphasis on linking breath tomovement. Breathe in, move one way. Breathe out, moveanother way.

This emphasis on your breath will help prompt you to breathewhen youre doing yoga for stroke recovery and when youre going about yourdaily life.


As you can see, there are many benefits of yoga for strokepatients. Next, well share a success story to help inspire you to get started.

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Chair Yoga: Gentle Effective Exercise For Osteoarthritis Pain

The first randomized, controlled study to observe the effects of Chair Yoga on osteoarthritis reports many benefits for people with joint pain and stiffness. Learn more about the study and how you can reduce pain exercising in a seated position.

New study finds many benefits for people suffering from osteoarthritis. Results of the study showed pain reduction was nearly 10 times greater for Chair Yoga participants than for health education participants that did not engage in exercise. Osteoarthritis , the most common form of arthritis in people over the age of 25, can make routine tasks like dressing and walking, extremely painful. The hallmark of OA is pain, stiffness, and swelling from the degeneration of the cartilage and bones within a joint. The , hips, and hands are most frequently affected and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 30 million people in the US have the condition.

Also, known as degenerative joint disease, OA often develops gradually anddepending on the severity of the problemcan limit range of motion and result in disability if significant pain and stiffness occur. Although painful swollen joints can make movement challenging, the best way to treat the symptoms and delay the progression of OA is with regular exercise.


Glute Stretch Chair Pigeon Pose

Adaptive Yoga Gentle Chair Sequence

This chair yoga version of Pigeon pose or ankle to knee pose will target the glutes and piriformis muscles.

  • Begin with some gentle mobility work for the hip joint by lifting the right foot a few inches off the floor, take hold of your knee and make circles with it, do this three times in each direction.
  • Cross your ankle over your left knee and gently move the knee up and down a few times. If its not possible to bring your ankle to your knee you can cross your ankle in front of your shin and rest your foot on a block if you have one.
  • From here inhale as you lengthen through your spine and fold forwards as you exhale. Stay within your comfort range.

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Rehab Exercises For Post Stroke Recovery

The following exercises have been shown to improve strength, range of motion, endurance, balance, and other physical skills after a stroke. They are common in the rehabilitation world and are frequently prescribed by physical and occupational therapists. You can also visit our guide to stroke rehab equipment in conjunction with this guide on stroke recovery exercise for a complete rehab program at home.

A couple housekeeping tips: aim for 10-15 repetitions of each exercise, 2 to 3 times per day, 3 to 5 days per week. Only do the exercises that feel good and safe. If any of the exercises cause pain or make you feel unsafe, either modify them or skip them. You may want to have a loved one or caregiver with you while doing these exercises for added safety. And when in doubt, consult with a professional or ask your doctor about a referral to physical therapy or occupational therapy where you can get more individualized guidance.

Yoga For Stroke Survivors

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Laura Vasquez

Baxter Bells reply:I agree that a very slow pace is a good idea, especially if you are working with recent stroke survivors who are still hospitalized or are in a rehab unit. Its challenging to work with a group of students with stroke, as their difficulties can vary so widely. Two common problems that arise after a stroke are difficulty with balance, and one-sided weakness affecting an arm or leg or both.

If the student is able to transfer easily from chair to floor, consider starting out with the students on their backs. If a student gets dizzy lying flat, prop the head slightly to see if the dizziness resolves promptly. Youll be able to recreate almost all of the standing poses in this position, often placing the feet against the baseboard of the wall and propping limbs as needed.

As strength and balance improve, you can begin to work standing poses against a wall. Keep the back to the wall for such poses as Utthita Trikonasana and Utthita Parsvakonasana . For extra support, students can rest the bottom hand on the back of a chair in these poses.

Baxter Bell, MD, teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally, and is director of the Piedmont Yoga Studios teacher-training program in Oakland, California. He is a contributing writer for Yoga Journal website and magazine and for the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.


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Yoga Helps Improve Your Cognitive Function

Yoga is therapeutic for stroke recovery because of the undivided attention required. When performing yoga poses, you are focusing all your energy onto your brains processing power which reduces the cognitive load on your brain. Each movement is very deliberate after all, you are focusing on breathing right and transitioning into poses, and that extra stimulation can really wake up your brain. You will find it easier to focus on your everyday tasks as your brain is already used to focusing on one thing at a time.

Hamstring Stretch Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Adaptive Yoga Gentle Chair Sequence – FULL CLASS – for older adults & stroke survivors

Like the standing version, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasa, this pose will stretch out the calves and hamstrings, and will activate your core abdominal muscles, which helps improve balance.

  • Make a loop with a strap or belt and hook it around your right foot. Hold the strap in your right hand you can hold the edge of the chair with your other hand for extra support.
  • Keeping your back as straight as possible begin to straighten and lift your right leg. You can keep a bend in the knee if its more comfortable.
  • While in the pose you can point and flex your foot a few times to pump your calves which can help circulation.
  • For an extra challenge loosen your strap a little so that youre using your hip flexor muscles to keep the leg lifted.
  • After a couple of breaths bring the right foot back to the floor. Pause and notice the sensations in your body before repeating on the other side.

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Getting Started With Chair Yoga

Chair Yoga builds strength and flexibility just like other forms of yoga, says Kristine Lee, creator of the Sit N Fit Chair Yoga method. She designed the practice to give older adults a simple and effective way to exercise.


If youd like to explore the benefits of Chair Yoga, first consult your doctor or physical therapist to see if its right for you. If youve been cleared for exercise and would like to begin Chair Yoga with guidance, ask your PT or health care provider for a referral to local classes or instructors in your area. You can also conduct an online search for Chair Yoga classes. Local senior centers may also be able to refer you.

Look for instructors with a Yoga Alliance Certification, at least 200 hours, with additional certification specifically for Chair Yoga or Yoga Therapy, Ms. Lee advises. Chair Yoga can also be practiced at home. What people love most about Sit N Fit Chair Yoga is that they can do it, she says.

To check it out now, see our slideshow, . These gentle moves were selected by Ms. Lee for Practical Pain Management.com readers. Ms. Lee says it’s best to start slowly: Do what you can. If you feel any pain at all, stop and go to the next move. You dont have to do every pose. Listen to your body.” If possible, practice Chair Yoga at least two times each week. Sometimes just a few 15-minute sessions are enough, Ms. Lee says.

Yoga May Improve Balance Of Stroke Patients

Study Shows Yoga Classes May Help Prevent Falls in Older Stroke Patients

June 6, 2011 — Practicing yoga after a stroke may help rebuild balance and prevent potentially disabling falls among the elderly, a study shows.

The study shows stroke survivors who participated in a specialized post-stroke yoga class improved their balance by up to 34%.

Researchers say the participants also experienced a big boost in their own self-confidence after their yoga practice and became more physically active in their communities.

“It also was interesting to see how much the men liked it,” says researcher Arlene A. Schmid, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, in a news release.

Schmid says many of the participants wanted to continue their yoga practice at home after the study ended.

“They enjoyed it so much partly because they weren’t getting any other treatment. They had already completed their rehabilitation but felt there still was room for improvement,” Schmid says.

Previous research shows the risk of falls and breaking a hip increase significantly after a stroke and also increase with age.

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Yoga Helps Manage Depression Fear And Anxiety

The combination of breathing, meditation, and physical movement relieves depression, fear and anxiety. Meditation helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their minds. Controlled, focused movements also help strengthen the body-mind connection.

Research has revealed that yogic breathing, defined as a manipulation of breath movement, has been shown to positively affect immune function, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders. One common mistake made by many is holding their breath while they exercise. Thankfully, yoga places a heavy emphasis on aligning breath to movement.

Prioritising daily yoga can be life-affirming but be sure to talk to your doctor or therapist about whether yoga is safe for you before you start your yoga practice. One thing to discuss is whether any common yoga poses might pose a hazard for individuals with stroke.

Feel free to reach out to our Care Advisors at to learn more about how we can assist with post-stroke recovery for you or your loved ones.

Published Posters Or Oral Presentations

Chair Yoga for Stroke Survivors

Van Puymbroeck et al. designed a 10-week yoga intervention for improving quality of life in stroke survivors. To measure activity and participation, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health measure of participation and activity subscales were used. To measure quality of life, the stroke survivor’s quality of life scale was distributed to participants. Results showed significantly improved activity, participation, and quality of life in the yoga group compared to the control group.

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Yoga Can Help Manage Stress Keep Blood Pressure And Cholesterol Under Control Thereby Lowering The Risk Of Having A Stroke

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and/or bleeds. It can also happen when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the brain. When the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, it prevents the brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. A stroke can hinder speech, cause memory problems, and/or affect the movement of the arms or legs on one side of the body. Stroke can also lead to difficulty with balance and can cause involuntary falls.

Yoga has been a popular exercise for the prevention of chronic diseases, including strokes. Performing yoga asanas can help manage stress, keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control, and maintain a healthy weight. This helps lower the risk of having a stroke. Yoga is also known to improve cognition and boost mood, which is an essential factor that helps with stroke prevention.

Since performing asanas involve contraction of specific muscles to stabilise the body, they can help improve muscular strength. Balancing postures can also aid in the prevention of stroke.

Yoga Asanas For A Stroke Survivor

During the whole session, remember to stay connected with your breath. Begin with one hand on your heart, and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and make an audible exhale through the mouth. Set the intention of your practice today by thinking of what you are grateful for.

Below are the asanas you can practice advised by the American Stroke Foundation .

Seated Marching

  • Imagine things outdoors such as the sun, flowers, and trees while you continue to breathe.
  • Place your palms on the tops of your legs.
  • Lift one knee and lower, alternating each leg at a slow pace. Keep your hips connected to your chair and your spine long.
  • Then wiggle your feet lifting your heels and toes

Knee Extension

  • Press your right heel out by either lifting off the floor or sliding it forward.
  • Then point and flex the right foot. Complete ankle circles.
  • Switch legs after 45 seconds and repeat the sequence on the left side.

Leg Lifts

  • While remaining seated on a bench or in the yard while you continue to breathe through the exercise.
  • Extend legs in front of you, alternate lifting one heel off the ground at a time. Only lift as high as you are comfortable.
  • Dont lose your upright posture and keep your hips connected to the chair.

Weight Shifting

Shoulder Shrugs and Neck Stretches

Butterfly Exercise and Arm raises

Looking and Reaching for Flowers

Tree Hug

Open hands and arms out wide, then close arms to hug the tree. Repeat several times.

Seated Tree Pose

Namaste

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Yoga Is About More Than Cool

First, lets clarify who can do yoga.

You dont need to be flexible or have perfect posture or balance to do yoga. Its about much more than cool-looking poses. In fact, poses are only a small part of yoga.

Yoga involves a combination of poses, meditation, breathing, and observation techniques. Its about fostering your mind-body connection, which can greatly benefit stroke recovery.

In fact, mind-body connection is at the core of stroke rehabilitation. Physical and occupational therapy revolve around rewiring the brain to improve movement in the body for increased functional abilities.

As the brain rewires itself, it improves communication between the brain and body .

Best of all, yoga can be adapted to meet your ability level. For an example, heres a video that demonstrates a classic yoga pose adapted for stroke patients:

The simplicity of the yoga practice allows stroke patients toreap many different benefits.

Learn About The Health Benefits Of Chair Yoga Plus 6 Yoga Poses For Improving Mobility In The Lower Body

CHAIR Yoga for Stroke

Chair yoga allows yoga to be accessible to people with mobility and / or balance difficulties. While its usually thought of as a practice for older adults, its also great for people with neurological problems, women in later stages of pregnancy and for anyone looking for a more gentle yoga practice.

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Chair Yoga For Stroke Survivors

Chair yoga is a great way to improve range of motion and decrease stress. A chair provides stability you might need after a stroke while still allowing you to get in a workout. It is a great way to combine mindfulness and exercise. Chair yoga is wonderful way to start or end your day with an intention in mind throughout the session. In this video the intention is gratitude. Whether you watch this video once or complete it every day, there is always a new intention to be grateful for each day.

This post will walk you through all the different movements completed in the video along with time stamps. Before beginning, make sure you remember your ROM limits. You can use your unaffected side to help your affected side as needed. Only complete moves to where you are comfortable. Begin with your feet on the floor, hip-width apart, sitting upright with good posture. Lets Begin!

Stay Connected Through Your Breath and Set an Intention

During the whole session, remember to stay connected with your breath. Begin with one hand on your heart, and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and make an audible exhale through the mouth. Set the intention of your practice today by thinking of what you are grateful for.

Seated Marching

Knee Extension

Press your right heel out by either lifting off the floor or sliding it forward. Then point and flex the right foot. Complete ankle circles. Switching legs after 45 seconds and repeat the sequence on the left side.

Leg Lifts

Tree Hug

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