“These 7 Simple Yoga Stretches Got Me Walking Again After A Stroke”

Amazing moves for anyone who struggles with mobility or wants to ease into exercise.


Chandré Davids |

We all know yoga has serious health benefits. From increased flexibility to helping relieve stress, practising this ancient art can do wonders for your well-being. As this stroke victim discovered…

Kefiloe Majoro suffered a stroke in May this year, leaving her paralysed on the left side of her body and relying on a cane to move. In an effort to get her mobility back, she reached out to yogi to assist her with exercises that would get her walking. “I read Mali’s recovery story and saw how strong she is. I knew I wanted to work with her,” says Kefiloe. 

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Mali, who controls her brain lupus through yoga, has developed a unique approach to the practice – a holistic integration of yoga, meditation, fitness, nutrition and body intelligence to help encourage the body’s natural healing processes. She felt confident it could work for Kefiloe too.

 

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“One of the benefits of yoga and meditation is that they improve neuroplasticity, the process in which the brain’s pathways are changed and able to learn new things,” says Mali.

Mali advised Kefiloe to meditate and write in a journal each day. This, she says, helps focus your thoughts on the positive and what makes you happy. “When you focus on feeling good during gratitude journaling, you expand the part of the brain that deals with emotions, releasing the feel-good hormones, like dopamine and endorphins,” she explains.

Mali also encouraged Kefiloe to visualise herself standing up from her chair and walking. “I started to visualise myself walking without my cane; eventually, when I stood up, I was able to walk,” says Kefiloe.

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“I couldn’t do much after my stroke; my 12-year-old son had to help me around the house. Mali really changed my life and how I view my illness. I had lost hope and she helped me regain my belief in myself. I can now move around and help myself.”

Here, the moves that helped get Kefiloe walking unassisted. These moves are great for anyone who struggles with mobility or wants to ease into exercise.

1. Seated Cat Stretch

Sit up straight. Breathe in through your nose, tummy out, and breathe out through your mouth. Pull your tummy in and push your bum out – hold for 20 seconds. Breath in through your nose, tummy out; breath out, tucking in the chin and pulling your tummy inward. Roll back a bit towards the chair. Repeat two to three times.

Pay attention to what you’re doing as you breathe in and out and move. Pay attention to where you’re feeling the tension and allow the tension to move down to the floor as you breath out.

2. Seated Forward Bend

Sit up straight. Breath in through your nose, tummy out, and breathe out through your mouth. Pull your tummy in and tuck in your chin. Bend forward to your thighs and let your arms fall to the side. Hold for 20 seconds and allow your bodyweight to move down to the floor. Breath in normally and slowly come up. Repeat this two to three times.

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3. Chest Opener

Sit up straight, folding your hands behind the back of a chair. Breathe in through your nose, tummy out, and breathe out through your mouth. Pull your tummy in and pull yourself forward, sticking your chest out and bringing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 20 seconds and release. Repeat two to three times.

If your shoulder blades are dislocated, just take your hands to the back and stick your chest out – no chair pulling.

 

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4. Seated Spinal Twist

Sit up straight. Hold the left leg with the right hand. Breathe in through your nose, tummy out, and breath out through your mouth. Pull your tummy in and twist your upper body to the left using your right hand. Hold for 20 seconds. Do the same with the right leg and left arm. If your left arm isn’t working, ask someone to hold both your shoulders and gently twist your body to the left – hold for 20 seconds. Repeat two to three times.

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5. Neck Stretch

Sit up straight. Breath in through your nose, tummy out, and breath out through your mouth, pulling your tummy in. Bend your neck to the left, holding for 20 seconds. Do the same for the right, front and back. Repeat two to three times.

6. Ankle Stretch

Sit up straight. Breathe in through your nose, tummy out, and breathe out through your mouth. Pulling your tummy in, point your toes and push your feet downwards. Hold for 20 seconds. Breathe in through your nose, tummy out, and breath out through your mouth. Pull your tummy in and flex (feet pointing upwards, pull your feet towards your legs). Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat two to three times.

If you struggle sitting on a chair, try using a towel or elastic wrapped around your feet.

Watch: “Taking Up Yoga Helped Me Overcome My Eating Disorder”

7. Hand Exercises

Sit up straight and place your arm on the table. Place a water bottle or tennis ball in your hand. Keep your fingers and hand relaxed. Breathe in through your nose, tummy out, and breathe out through your mouth. Pull your tummy in, curl your fingers in and grasp the water bottle in your hand – hold for 20 seconds, then release. As you breathe in and out, pay attention to your affected hand. Try this exercise with your eyes closed.

Watch ON: Fitness Health Health Advice Real Women Yoga