Yoga teacher Suzanne Jolly is offering a free series to community members with mild brain injuries or post-concussion syndrome. When she was first diagnosed, the only activity she could comfortably do was yoga. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Yoga class launching for people with mild brain injuries

Grey Matter Yoga will be offered for free in Campbell River this October

Suzanne Jolly knows firsthand just how hard living with a brain injury can be.

The Campbell Riverite developed post-concussion syndrome five years ago following two concussions in rapid succession. The first happened on a sailboat on their way back to the dock, the second, walking under a steel bridge when she misjudged the height thanks to a baseball cap.

Before her injuries, Jolly was extremely active in the outdoors. In the Sea to Sky corridor, she was known for off-road motorbiking and mountain biking. But after her concussions, she had trouble balancing, she was sensitive to light, had mental confusion, extensive fatigue as well as chronic pain and headaches.

“The lasting effects were shocking to me,” she said. “In the moment, you bump your head and it hurts, but it’s easy to dismiss it as just a bump on the head. It’s so much more than that and when you’re not expecting lasting symptoms it can be a struggle to adapt.”

For months, yoga was the only activity she could handle.

Jolly took the experience a step further, becoming a yoga instructor herself. Now, she’s offering a free program to others in the community experiencing post-concussion syndrome and mild traumatic brain injuries.

The program will incorporate some standing poses, so students should have the ability to stand for some or all of the class, even if they need a wall or a caregiver for balance. Throughout the program, participants will have a chance to hear from guest speakers like a registered acupuncturist, doctor of Chinese medicine, registered massage therapist and physiotherapist. There will also be time after the class to network with others.

“Brain injuries are often invisible which makes it more difficult because it’s not obvious to others,” says Jolly. “They cannot tell that carrying on even a short conversation, managing to get groceries, having a meal in a busy restaurant or just being in a brightly lit space can be devastatingly hard. it is incredibly isolating as people just don’t understand enough about the experience.”

It’s also open to caregivers.

“Family and friends are often not able to understand clearly what is going on and they are under a lot of pressure to help,” says Jolly. “Giving them resources and support is so important.”

Jolly and the other professionals involved in teaching the program are all volunteering their time and the venue, Mountainview Therapeutics on Dogwood Street, has donated the use of their space.

“It is very amazing to see all these people join me in volunteering their time,” says Jolly. “I know how hard financially and emotionally a head injury can be on a person and their family. I was incredibly fortunate to have the support and resources that I had, but I met many people for whom that was not the case.”

The program will take place in October on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at 111 Dogwood St. For more information about the program, or to register, call 250-203-5897 or email suzanne.e.jolly@gmail.com. Space is limited as physical distancing will be in effect.

Campbell River

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