Finding “Zen” in Aphasia: The Benefits of Yoga as Described by Key Stakeholders

Lauren Bislick, Aimee Dietz, E. Susan Duncan, Pilar Garza, Rachel Gleason, Dana Harley, Greg Kersey, Terri Kersey, Chitrali R. Mamlekar, Michael J. McCarthy, Vicki Noe, Deanna Rushlow, J. Chase Rushlow, Stephanie Van Allan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Recently, the literature has witnessed a surging interest regarding the use of mind–body approaches with people who have aphasia, generating a plethora of possible outcome measures. During this same time, a core outcome set for aphasia has been recommended. The purpose of this clinical focus article is to give our survivor, co-survivor, and clinician stakeholder coauthors a platform to share their personal narrative regarding their yoga journey, with the goal of identifying primary outcome domains central to capturing the impact of yoga on the recovery process for people with poststroke aphasia. Ultimately, we hope this clinical focus article helps clinicians understand how yoga might benefit their patients and draws attention to potential outcome measures, while also highlighting the important fact that traditional aphasia assessments do not capture the improvements stakeholders pinpoint as crucial to the essence of mind–body interventions. Method: This clinical focus article summarizes the case reports of Terri’s and Chase’s poststroke yoga journeys using the power of personal narrative and an adapted photovoice method. Additional stakeholders share in this storytelling process, using a variety of narrative tools. As this story is unveiled, several patient-identified outcome domains are highlighted as essential to document the impact of yoga on survivors. Results: Terri’s and Chase’s yoga journeys revealed the multifaceted impact of yoga on five domains: (a) feelings of wholeness and “zen,” (b) increased attentional capacity for language tasks, (c) increased verbal fluency, (d) decreased pain, and (e) relationship mutuality. Conclusion: Team Yoga realized that the practice of yoga —whether as a stand-alone practice or integrated into therapy sessions—fosters feelings of wholeness or “zen,” which likely correlates with decreased pain with a simultaneous increase in resilience and flexibility of coping strategies to manage the host of chronic poststroke challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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