We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Stretch will be hosting a research project “Mindful Brain Yoga: a pilot study on yoga for concussion”.
A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), led by Dr. William Panenka, a well-established clinical investigator and medical doctor specialized in concussion and Delrae Fawcett, a Research Coordinator with a Master’s of Science in Health Psychology, teamed up with yoga therapist Shivani Wells to create an evidence-based yoga program tailored for individuals with post-concussive syndrome.
Shivani, who has focused her studies at UBC on neuropsycology, and has her own personal experience with post-concussive syndrome, developed “Mindful Brain Yoga”, and 8-week yoga intervention tailored to individuals with concussion symptoms.
Christy Forman and Nicole Marcia, both respected yoga therapists with a wealth of knowledge and experience teaching in clinical settings, were selected to teach the classes for the intervention.
This study aims to examine how people with concussion respond to yoga, and align it to the symptoms associated with such brain injuries. This will allow them to create and adapt the practice of yoga to meet the specific needs of this population. Along with symptom severity questionnaires and physiological measures of autonomic nervous system functioning, they are integrating a qualitative component to this study through an end-of-program interview with participants and teachers.
Their multilevel design will facilitate them in dissecting which components of the yoga protocol are operative physiologically, improving the understanding of the beneficial effects of yoga in general, and eventually result in a refined yoga protocol designed specifically to treat symptoms of brain injury.
Yoga has been shown to significantly improve feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression in healthy people. Studies have also shown that yoga practice can improve people’s cognitive functioning in areas such as memory, attention, and processing speed. One study found that experienced yogis had greater grey matter volumes in certain brain regions related to pain regulation, pain tolerance, stress, and attention. Another study, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), found increases in brain volumes after just 8 weeks of mindfulness training and yoga. These areas of increased volume are known to be involved with learning and memory, emotional regulation, and the process of awareness. Additionally, a recent systematic review found significant reductions in anxiety and stress in yoga groups compared with non-yoga groups. Given that the typical clinical post-concussion syndrome includes cognitive impairment, balance problems, sleep disturbance, dizziness, headaches, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, and depression, yoga seems to hold a lot of potential for these individuals.
We look forward to posting more about this great project!
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