Yoga Program Helps People With Brain Injuries

ANKENY, Iowa –You've likely heard yoga can help you relax and provide a good workout. Therapists also use the exercise to help people recover from brain injuries.

Michelle Pett is far from a yoga expert. "It's the absolute first time I've tried it," she said.

She can tell her first class is different than most. “It puts me at ease just to know everyone in this room has some type of similarity to me, that the pace will more than likely be at a pace I can follow or understand," she said.

Pett is recovering from a concussion after falling on the ice. She heard yoga helps people with from brain injuries.

"Yoga has been shown to really help people build their resilience after a brain injury," said On With Life Occupational Therapist Sue Sandahl. The brain injury rehabilitation center in Ankeny hosted the Love Your Brain yoga class in honor of Brain Injury Awareness month. Staff led the class, which was created for brain injury survivors.

"We gear it towards people with brain injury and neurological disorders so that they can feel like they're welcome, and they we understand what they're going through," said Sandahl.

Sandahl started incorporating yoga into her practice eight years ago. She says it helps stroke survivors work on balance and strengthen the core. Yoga calms people with concussions. "They have reported to us that they have a lot of automatic, negative thoughts, that they have trouble controlling, and they can be more anxious then they were before the injury."

Pett believes the practice will help her on her journey to recovery.

On With Life is marking Brain Injury Awareness Month by asking people to post pictures to social media showing how they love their brains.