The OneStep Blog

Leslie Hadley on Yoga for Stroke Survivors

Rachel K

In our work with patients going through recovery from stroke, THR, and other physical challenges, we have the opportunity to meet many incredibly individuals who are motivating themselves towards recovery in unique and inspiring ways. In our monthly newsletter Physical Therapy at Home, we share interviews with hundreds of subscribers who are looking for motivation in their own recovery journies.  We recently published an interview with terror victim Ido Lazan who was shot multiple times, and now owns his own gym where we helps train others in Crossfit!  

In this interview, we spoke with Leslie Hadley, a stroke survivor and yoga teacher who specifically focuses on spreading her love for yoga to other stroke survivors. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie has been offering chair yoga over Zoom. We caught up with her to learn more about how yoga has played a role in her recovery.

Hi Leslie! Please yourself to our readers.

I am Leslie Hadley. I own a yoga and coaching business in New Jersey! I was in upper management in an international company prior to yoga and wellness. I was a single mom and had a stressful career so I started yoga 23 years ago to relax. It worked, so I trained to become a teacher and pass the good on to help others. I am also a transformational life and health coach. I went back to school to work with people holistically. I found my true passion!

  1. When was your stroke? Can you tell us about that day?

My stroke occurred on 2/21/18. I was fairly stressed out the night before, with some relationship craziness! I woke up that morning so happy. I was able to tell people my daughter was pregnant. I had a client mi- morning so instead of waking up and take a 6 am barre class I opted to take the 9am class since it was on the way to my clients home. I was in the class and I felt a weird feeling go across my chest. Of course I ignored it. About 5 minutes later I felt it again. I sat down on the floor. The owner came over and said she was calling the EMTs. Thankfully she was an RN and recognized the signs. I was at the hospital in 20 minutes. I knew it was serious but couldn’t imagine how serious a stroke is.

  1. How would you describe yourself pre-stroke? What changes did you make to your life as a result?

Pre-stroke I was super busy. I taught approx. 20 yoga classes a week, gave both mat yoga and prenatal teacher training, coached people, saw tons of friends and family, dated a lot. BUSY! Today, I am busy but I also rest when I need to, make sure I do some type of OT/PT daily and I meditate a lot more. Mindset work is so important to recovery and for a peaceful life. I see friends and family but with COVID not as often. Grateful for my ZOOM account. Nutrition is important and since I am a holistic health coach I know what works for me and others.

  1. Can you desrcribe for us your physical recovery journey since the stroke?

I work on recovery daily. Its who I am. I am left side affected. I make sure that I work on my hand movements and I am starting to get feeling back.  I do my leg exercises daily. If someone is around I make sure I walk. I fell almost a year ago and broke my hip so PT wants me with someone. Of course I do yoga for me and teach approx. 5 classes a week.

  1. Tell us about how you use yoga to help stroke survivors?

I have been teaching yoga for 21 years and coaching since 2009. I love both yoga and coaching! Yoga for stroke survivors is important for recovery. I want to be able to help survivors feel better about the changes that have occurred both emotionally and physically, to find a place of peace. Yoga balances the brain. I work with the non-affected side (teaching side) first and then learning side. Its important that both sides work. Yoga is a non-judgemental practice and the student actually sees the changes in mind, body, sprit. I have tried to offer the survivor classes as a donation class and people show interest but don’t come. Yoga is so helpful in the recovery process from anything not just strokes.

  1. Can anyone do yoga?

Yoga can be adapted to all physical and emotional conditions. For example I taught yoga to autistic kids. I had to adapt the program but on their yoga days, the kids were happy, slept better and were more peaceful. Adults have the same benefits and more especially if they are not well.

  1. What would you say to other people dealing with physical challenges right now?

Make sure they do their work everyday, both mindset and physical. If they need emotional help get it. Love themselves, no matter what is going on.

  1. What does resilience mean to you?

Resilience to me is making the best out of any situation. With resilience comes determination and trust. My book, Awaken from Illness, Reclaim your Life shows how many times I had to change to become who I am each step of the way.