There’s more to yoga than meets the eye. Sure, as a fitness trend it’s become as embedded in the American cultural landscape as Pilates and CrossFit. But there’s a lot that many Americans don’t know about yoga, such as just how much of the mind and body it truly affects. Whether your pathway to enlightenment is Raja, Bhakti, Jnana or Karma, yoga not only combats a number afflictions and ailments, such as depression and weight gain, it can help rebuild after a debilitating accident, one that leaves the victim with brain trauma. Here’s a look at some facts and stats that show how practicing yoga as a means to improve cognitive function can help in the face of a traumatic brain injury.
According to the CDC, traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for around 30% of all injury deaths in the U.S. Everything from falls to blunt trauma to car accidents are the root causes of these injuries, and those that do survive often find themselves facing years of physical therapy in an attempt to regain full use of their mental faculties. But not all effective forms of PT are of the western variety. Yoga has proven benefits in this area, too, and these are listed below.
The cost factor
Accident victims without an attorney may find themselves left with no settlement money to cover medical care, at which point alternative forms of therapy become even more crucial to rebuilding brain function. Luckily most folks can find a yoga class for between $10-$20, depending on where they live. And if even this is too expensive, or lack of transport is an issue, there are a number of yoga poses designed to increase brain power that anyone can do at home.
A little goes a long way
As mentioned above, people often live with traumatic brain injury and the attendant physical therapy for years and decades of their lives. And while it’s crucial to explore all available forms of PT, it’s also vital to keep in mind that even in small doses yoga is effective. In testing cognitive function, researches found that people who engaged in 20 minutes of hatha yoga (a technique that focuses on opening channels in the body) showed significant improvement in the areas of memory and inhibitory control. And this wasn’t over a space of time—this was one single 20-minute session.
The success stories
That isn’t to say a mere 20 minutes will yield life-changing results. But it’s a start. The real evidence of just how much a sustained regimen of yoga can help with a traumatic brain injury comes in the form of those who have lived the experience. One of the more high profile victims of a traumatic brain injury is Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who in 2011 was shot in the head by an armed assailant outside of a supermarket in Tucson. Those who followed the robust media coverage were aware of just how dire her situation was—and just how far she’s come in the intervening years. She credits different forms of therapy, including yoga, with helping her to recover her cognitive function after the tragedy.
An even more vocal supporter of yoga as a means to recover from a TBI is former pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce. After crashing headfirst into a half pipe in 2009, Pearce suffered from a host of cognitive problems, including mood swings, memory loss and vision problems. After one yoga session Pearce noticed that his eyesight had improved to the point he no longer required glasses to drive. From that point on he made yoga an integral part of his weekly routine, and today touts it as having changed his life. He even started the Love Your Brain organization as a way to raise awareness of the healing benefits of yoga and meditation for brain injury survivors.
When viewing yoga according to the principals and benefits listed above, its limitations become less defined. After all, yoga is not an exercise but an ancient science, one designed to fully integrate body and mind through physical movements, breathing and meditation. Many experts believe that, even today, the full benefits of yoga have not been fully realized. Makes sense, then, that an ancient discipline with untapped potential might just be one key tool that can help rebuild a broken mind.
Farar & Lewis LLP’s Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers have seen many types of brain injuries happen as a result of auto and car related accidents. We hope this article was helpful, in explaining the benefits of Yoga.