Yoga As A Form Of Healing: An interview with a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor

Anna N. is a survivor of a Traumatic Brain Injury of 13 years.  She has visited many doctors, undergone multiple therapies, and has experienced improvement beyond original expectations.  Anna started attending a yoga class 3 weeks ago, however has practiced yoga throughout her rehabilitation. 

When were you first introduced to yoga?

About a year after the start of my rehab, in September 2003.

What benefits have you noticed from yoga?

The breathing, I have since realized that the breathing is the same diaphragmatic breathing as when I used to sing or play the french horn, so I'm pretty good at diaphragmatic breathing.  The only problem is that I many times I take a much lower breath as opposed to before the accident.  

It's just awareness of my body, and awareness of the tight muscles that can be loosened by stretching.  I meditate a lot.  I meditate as a stress and anxiety reliever.

Were you nervous before your first class 3 weeks ago?

Not really.  Well, that's a lie.  I was nervous that I wouldn't know the poses or I would overextend in the poses.  The class is within my therapy hospital, so it is tailored to my physical needs.  But it’s going really well.

What advice would you give to someone who has never tried yoga but might be nervous because they're not a typical yoga student as seen in advertisements?

Just try it.  Go really really easy, because you won't be able to do all the stretches, but make it a point to practice so you can get your flexibility, your breathing, and your strength back.  It isolates certain muscles depending on which pose you do, so if you're not good at it right away, just keep practicing.  You will get it eventually.  And there's no rush to get it.  

While her accident tragically changed the course of her life, she has not let it stop her from co-founding a business, living alone, and even taking ballroom dancing lessons!  Her resolve is truly inspiring.