How Yoga Can Benefit Clients With Cerebral Palsy

Bend With Tasha

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Over the years yoga has become more than just a type of exercise or a hobby to use to get away mentally and physically. Yoga has transformed to helping individuals with depression, anxiety, and stress.

With my years of experience teaching different students and learning from other teachers. I have learned that yoga can be beneficial for clients who are dealing with high blood pressure, inflammation, and heart disease.

Those are just a few to name but, the one that we will be discussing today is cerebral palsy. In an article called “Cerebral Palsy - What is Cerebral Palsy?” by The Cerebral Palsy Group stated

"Cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder and leading cause of disability in young children. It affects approximately 500,000 children and adults, with around 8,000 babies and between 1,200 and 1,500 preschool-age children diagnosed each year.Cerebral palsy occurs as a result of a brain injury sustained during fetal development or birth. However, because the symptoms of CP affect a child’s coordination and independent movement, the injury is not always diagnosed right away, especially when the symptoms are mild."

There are many ways Cerebral Palsy can occur but, one of the many ways to help Cerebral Palsy is yoga.

You do have the option of choosing restorative yoga, yin yoga, and gentle yoga. The most popular type of yoga for Cerebral Palsy clients is adaptive yoga.

Adaptive yoga is a gentle approach for clients that have injuries or disabilities. This type of yoga allows the body to be taught different poses in a safe comfortable way.

For example, some classes may be taught with the client in a chair. Doing the poses in a chair allows the client to be supported while doing the pose and also get the same benefits from doing the pose.

Yoga can help the body build muscle tone and increase different ranges of flexibility. Yoga is a great way to get positive results and benefits. Below I have listed five ways yoga can benefit clients that have Cerebral Palsy.

Increases focus and concentration:

Yoga can help a client connect their mind, body and soul. Being able to connect all three is beneficial when it comes to increasing performance of your fine motor skills, gross motor skills, brain function and how the brain and body communicate.

While helping the brain and body communicate, this will improve a client's writing, reading and attention skills.

Improved respiratory:

Yoga involves discovering your breath and knowing that your breath is for you. There are different yoga poses that will open the chest and allow the body to relax.

Being able to understand your breath will benefit your nervous system, improve posture and reduce anxiety or stress.

Stretching the body:

Yoga whether it is gentle, yin, restorative, vinyasa, ashtanga or hatha; stretching the body allows you to hold your body in positions that lengthen your muscles.

While you are lengthening the muscles, stretching will also increase your muscle strength.

Improves your posture:

Yoga will improve your posture when you create a good routine whether it is going to a class once a week or twice a week.

With each pose you are building core strength and helping your body develop a good balance. When you are building both core and balance it will provide you with more confidence with each pose.

Allows you to be present:

Yoga will provide you with that time to be present with how you are feeling, what you need and what you deserve. You will develop a habit of quieting the mind.

You will learn how to meditate, relax and breath. You will also develop increased self awareness and knowledge of each movement that you have.

There are modified poses for Cerebral Palsy, I have listed a few poses that can be used in class.

Chair Spinal Twist:

  • You will start by sitting in a chair.
  • Place your hands on your knees or in your lap.
  • Turn your torso to the left.
  • Hold on to the back of the chair.
  • Start to twist.
  • Take an inhale and exhale for five breaths.
  • Switch sides.

Chair Cat/Cow:

  • You will start by sitting in a chair.
  • Place your hands on your knees.
  • Exhale through your spine.
  • Start to pull your abdominals in.
  • Round your back.
  • Repeat movement five first.

Chair Side Leans:

  • You will start by sitting in a chair.
  • Place your hands on your knees or in your lap.
  • Take an inhale.
  • Take an exhale.
  • Life your arms over your head.
  • Start to interlock your fingers.
  • Stretch to the left.
  • Stretch to the right.
  • Repeat each side five times.

Chair Neck Stretches:

  • You will start by sitting in a chair.
  • Place your hands on your knees or in your lap.
  • Take your right arm.
  • Drape your right arm over your head.
  • Until your palm reaches your left ear.
  • Let your head fall softly to your right side.
  • Hold for five breaths.
  • Switch sides.

Chair Goddess Pose:

  • You will start by sitting in a chair.
  • Open your legs wide.
  • Point your toes out.
  • Place your right arm inside your right leg.
  • Reaching toward the floor.
  • Lift your left arm toward the ceiling.
  • Bring your gaze up to your left palm.
  • Take five breaths and repeat.

Chair Forward Bend:

  • You will start by sitting in a chair.
  • Take a big inhale.
  • Take a big exhale.
  • You will lead with the hips.
  • Fold forward.
  • Allowing the body to relax.
  • Arms to your side.
  • Take five breaths.

Chair yoga is a great way to start getting your body used to stretching, moving and breathing. Each pose will give you great alignment whether it is neck stretching or opening the hips.

Another great thing about chair yoga is, you will still gain the benefits of balancing your chakras. You also have the benefit of ending your session with a nice forward bend that will stretch your back out and have you feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready for the next challenge.

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My mission is to spread knowledge on self love, self-care and confidence. My articles will focus on lifestyle, health & wellness, travel, yoga and fashion.

Detroit, MI
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