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Yin Yoga and Concussions

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Joined: 06 Jan 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Shorewood Minnesota

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:51 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga and Concussions Reply with quote

Does anyone have relevant experience or knowledge around students recovering from a concussion? I have a fellow / friend teacher working with a recovering student and she is doing 'restorative' therapeutic yoga with the client. My teacher friend is wondering if her client might also benefit from Yin Yoga. The client is struggling with headaches. I am concerned about having her in an open class if she does not yet know her limitations or triggers. Any thoughts around how you might approach this prospective student?
Judy Farniok
Shorewood Minnesota
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1064
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:49 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga and Concussion Reply with quote

Hi Judy

Thanks for your question it is a good one. (Sorry for my delay in responding: I have been busy with trainings the last 2 weeks and just getting caught up.)

I have not had any direct experience with students suffering concussions, and as always my first instinct is to ask what their health care provider is recommending. The severity of the concussion, its cause and what other damage was done will all have a role in whatever therapy is best. Does your friends client suffer from whiplash and other soft tissue damage as well headaches?

One key concern with concussion is tightness in the muscles around the neck that can inhibit blood flow to the brain. Often the musculature tightens up after a concussion or whiplash and stretching can be effective at mobilizing the area. However, extensions of the head and neck are contra-indicated. Extensions could compress the vertebral arteries and reduce blood flow further.

In the Yin Yoga practice, this person would be advised not to extend the head and neck while in postures like Sphinx, Seal or Saddle. Flexion, gentle rotation and some lateral flexions could be added to postures like Shoelace, Butterfly, Straddle and Reclining Twist. I would suggest however, that the postures not be held as long, or alternately, the client could stay in the pose but bring the head back to a neutral position after 1~2 minutes. Movements of the head and neck should be moderate: dont go to a final edge, but rather explore the range of motion available and see what can be easily held for time. And, have the client continually check-in with himself and see how he is doing, both during the postures, and after he comes out of the pose. Even the next day! How does he feel? Over time he may be able to recognize what is therapeutic and what is not.

Should this client attend an open class? That is hard to answer: if the class is large and the teacher doesnt have time to attend to the clients unique needs, I would suggest no the client would be better off attending a very small class, or better yet a yoga therapy class.

I hope this helps.
Good luck!
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Joined: 09 Feb 2017
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: A further reply for a concussed Yin Yoga teacher Reply with quote


I am currently recovering from second concussion in a year's time. I also am a Yin yoga teacher. I have a history of concussion prior to this year's follies. I wanted to respond in case someone else stumbles on this page. I was glad to read Bernie's response, as I have been itchy to return to some practice of any* kind.

What I can tell you from my own experience, and from my personal research is that no two concussions are the same -- even for the same person. The general course of action after concussion is full rest. This is to ensure no pressure to the head and to keep the heart rate low. After that initial time, it's understood to gradually return to activities. I was happy to find this post, because I have been on and off full rest for a month.

If a student/client/friend/self finds any pose returns any* symptoms, they should stop immediately. Any inversions are also contraindicated because of the blood flow to the head. In my case this was an obvious no-no from the pressure in my head. If it is not obvious, I would say wait a month for any inversions like legs up the wall or downward dog.

Personally, I would advise against an open class as the first class back for a general population student. Sometimes reactions to physical movement are wildly unpredictable after concussion. Proprioception,vision, balance can all be affected. How the brain responds to new movement after the fact is tricky.

I hope to share my findings from my personal practice and research with concussion on this forum.

Peace & good health to you Smile
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1064
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that great response! I am sure others will find it helpful.
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