New Chair Yoga Sessions Created for Stroke Survivors

As a complement to the free Stroke Recovery Group with Dr. Sullivan, which meets monthly through July at the Clara McLean House in Pinehurst led by board certified neuropsychologist Karen D. Sullivan, attendees take part in a short session of gentle chair yoga. This additional chair yoga component, led by certified instructor Maryann O’Brien, is a piece that Sullivan included to help foster a positive recovery mindset for participants.

In fact, those attending are enjoying the chair yoga so much, a new and separate meeting time is now available with monthly sessions created for stroke survivors and their caregivers free of charge. The next meetings are set for Feb. 25, Mar. 31, Apr. 28, May 26 and Jun. 23 from 3-4 p.m. at the Clara McLean House, located at 20 First Village Drive, Pinehurst.

“Our goal with the Stroke Recovery Group is to address all aspects of the person and caregiver who have lived through a stroke,” says Sullivan, owner of Pinehurst Neuropsychology Brain & Memory Clinic. “Physical needs are the easiest to understand because we can see them, but many people also have cognitive, mood and social symptoms after a stroke, and these are just as important to validate and treat. Adding Maryann’s yoga into our Stroke Recovery Group allows us to make sure we are offering a whole-person approach.”

Yoga after stroke is an evidence-based way to improve strength, flexibility, range of motion, mood and quality of life. These sessions are a gentle yoga practice, modified for all stages of recovery and include breath work, slow mindful movements, creative chair dance routines and guided meditation.

“Cognitively, the big benefits come from the brain connections that are made when we have to coordinate the left and right sides of the body,” Sullivan explains. “These cross-body motions force the brain to work hard to make new pathways. Science aside, yoga is just good for the soul. We see contented smiles and sighs of release as participants relax into a posture or spend time deep breathing. It’s just awesome.”

Drawing upon her expertise and experience helping her own daughter recover from a traumatic brain injury, O’Brien’s goal is to provide a holistic healing tool to awaken the power within and support each individual’s personal recovery journey.

“I have a personal understanding of the challenges brain recovery has in all areas of one’s life,” O’Brien says. “Supporting others along their recovery journey and sharing my 25 years as a yoga practitioner with 500 hours of yoga teacher training, has become my passion. I feel so blessed to be working with Dr. Sullivan and to have the opportunity to create a safe and supportive environment to help stroke survivors regain their highest level of independence.”

The Stroke Recovery Group with Dr. Sullivan meets again Mar. 17, Apr. 12, May 12, Jun. 16 and July 14, and is offered to all local stroke survivors, their caregivers and rehab professionals by the generous support of The Foundation of FirstHealth.

For more information on the Stroke Recovery Chair Yoga or Stroke Recovery Group with Dr. Sullivan, call 910-420-8041 or email