Yoga helps traumatic brain injury patients recover

Yoga isn't just good for your body -- it's good for your brain, and the exercise is showing encouraging results as a form of therapy for traumatic brain injury patients.

AUSTIN -- Yoga isn't just good for your body -- it's good for your brain, and the exercise is showing encouraging results as a form of therapy for traumatic brain injury patients.

Modo Yoga Austin, a local yoga studio, paired up with the Love Your Brain Foundation to encourage traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients to incorporate yoga in their recovery. The foundation began a fundraising campaign to help TBI patients experience the benefits of yoga in honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Austinite Cavin Balaster said he's living proof of how yoga can help people recover from traumatic brain injuries.

Nearly four years ago, while living in Brooklyn, Balaster fell 20 feet from a rooftop water tank and he was in a coma for 12 days. Doctors determined he suffered a diffuse axonal injury, one of the most serious traumatic brain injuries.

"Which, statistically, 90 percent of patients never wake up from, and of the 10 percent that do, most are in a vegetative state," Balaster said.

Despite the odds, Balaster fought back and yoga was part of his recovery. But like all of his struggles the last four years, yoga was not easy to master.

"One of the first poses was to just stand with your feet close together and close your eyes," Balaster said. "Originally, I couldn't do that without losing my balance and almost falling down."

"It's really good for them to get on their feet and on their hands and work with gravity in a way that activates that part of their brain," said Meg Rohrer, the Modo Yoga manager and instructor. "When you're working with someone who's lost such a huge part of their body it's really, really inspiring to see them take even the littlest step towards regaining self-esteem and strength."

With each day, Balaster's poses -- and his life -- have regained their balance, inspiring others along the way.

"I like to say yoga was the most effective and least expensive therapy that I did for my brain and body that I did after my injury," Balaster said.


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