Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Body Awareness

Practicing yoga pre-stroke gave me a familiarity with the mechanics of my body. I learned how to roll and tuck my shoulder blades to open my chest. I learned how to stretch my feet both wider and longer. I learned to balance my weight not only side-to-side but back-to-front. I learned to be aware of the subtleties of my body.

In recovery I am aware of my body changing. Some of the exercises given to me in the weeks immediately following the stroke were premature. I stopped doing them in favor of exercises that seemed more helpful. Now I'm realizing my body is ready to go back to some of those abandoned exercises; I need the skills they were designed to teach. 

As I do each exercise, I try to be aware of the muscles being targeted. I often ask my therapist to touch the muscle I'm working. This helps me focus my mind on it, making my efforts more effective. And by being aware of the sensations and behavior of my body, I can communicate better with my therapists. This helps them help me.

For more than two years now, I have been almost constantly and uncomfortably aware of the pains and deficits of my affected side: It burns, buzzes, tingles, cramps. Sweet sleep or an hour of television provides brief escape. But the long-term escape — recovery — comes from paying close attention. My body wants to heal itself … is trying to heal itself. If I pay attention, I can help it.


  1. As always, your blog is thoughtful and insightful. Your willingness to keep working at recovery inspires.


  2. Yes!!

    I'm much more able to target different muscles than, say, a year ago.

    Yoga has helped me a lot this year. I also like a book called "Pilates for Everyone," by Denise Austin. I ignore the annoying text, but each exercise has an easy diagram of which muscles should feel the exercise.

  3. You always inspire me. I would love to hear what some of those conversations you have with your therapists sound like. Therapists often get the benefit of talking to a client that has the subtle insight yoga creates.