Nova Scotia

Yoga class aims to fill 'dearth' of activities for those with brain injuries

A new program in Halifax aims to help people with brain injuries restore some calm to their lives through meditation and yoga. 

Class of meditation and gentle movement is led by teacher with a traumatic brain injury

Chloe Luckett is instructing the Love Your Brain Yoga course. (Contributed by Chloe Luckett)

A new program in Halifax aims to help people with brain injuries restore some calm to their lives through meditation and yoga. 

The classes are being led Chloe Luckett, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in Sept. 2016 after being hit by a car while bicycling. 

"After the injury I just found that my anxiety skyrocketed," Luckett said. "I had really depressive tendencies and I just wasn't in a good head space anymore. I just was kind of mourning who I felt like I'd lost: who I was before."

Luckett had enjoyed cycling, running and going to the gym. But after her injury she didn't have the strength, energy or balance to do the same things.

The "Love Your Brain Yoga" class is geared toward people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a stroke or concussion. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

"Part of what you lose, with any injury in the hospital for that matter, is you lose independence, and you lose your own power," she said. 

Luckett didn't practise yoga before her injury. 

"I kind of laughed at it," she said. "It just wasn't really for me. I liked the more intense stuff."

Still, she said yes when a friend asked her to come to some classes and found herself enjoying it. 

"Yoga just kind of gives you a space to land with yourself," she said. "The practice really encourages you to just sit and just to know that things won't always be comfortable, but that it's temporary."

Then last year, the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia contacted Luckett. The association was searching for an instructor to lead a local version of a program called Love Your Brain Yoga, which has chapters around the world.

The class for brain injury patients will consist of meditation and gentle movements. (fizkes/Shutterstock)

Last summer the province announced it would spend $5 million on projects to help people with acquired brain injuries through the department of Health and Wellness and the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia. 

The Love Your Brain yoga program falls under this category.

Leona Burkey, BIANS executive director, said the association has reviewed research into yoga as a therapy for helping with brain injury, and the evidence is so good that they wanted to bring it to Halifax. 

"There really is a dearth of appropriate and relevant programming for people with brain injuries," said Burkey. "As we've grown we've been able to kind of get the word out to an expanding membership and client base. And people are really looking for those tools." 

According to Burkey, the brain injury association estimates more than 60,000 Nova Scotians may have a brain injury such as the kind that result from a concussion or stroke.

Leona Burkey is the president of the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia. (CBC)

The first class in the first six-week series starts Friday and is being offered free of charge to 13 brain-injury patients. Burkey said the registration filled up within seconds of opening, and the waiting list is full for the next three six-week sessions. 

Luckett said she's grateful for the support of the community in offering the program and that it is significantly different than regular yoga classes offered at studios around the city. 

Each session includes a quiet meditation for the first 45 minutes, which is followed by a 45-minute class of gentle yoga movements that accommodate symptoms that often accompany brain injuries, such as vertigo. 

In the final part of the class participants are able to talk about their lives and challenges with brain injuries in a support-group circle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaina Luck

Reporter

Shaina Luck is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has worked with national network programs, the CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit, and the University of King's College school of journalism. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca

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