Yoga has been hailed as an effective way for people who have suffered serious injuries to strengthen their bodies.

Journalist and author Tim Rushby-Smith, who uses a wheelchair, said taking part in Yoga helped him "feel" his legs for the first time in years.

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Rushby-Smith, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2005 which left him with permanent paraplegia, said the Yoga session he attended was difficult because the primary focus on balance and precision required him to exert a significant amount of physical control and concentration.

However, he found that his first yoga session helped him tremendously in improving his core strength and balance.

"By the end of the 90-minute class I am sitting unsupported on the floor with my arms above my head and my legs outstretched," he commented.

"This is extremely difficult when paralysed from the waist down. I have no fixed base, as I cannot gain stability from my buttocks or thighs, but somehow I am spreading myself out to my heels as much as the tips of my fingers."

Using good quality Yoga mats and Yoga equipment such as foam blocks, folding chairs and belts can help participants gain traction on the floor, but they still have to exert a certain amount of control and balance.

Mr Rushby-Smith found that using Yoga mats helped him get the most out of the exercises and Yoga poses he was doing.

"Instead of trying to balance on nothing, I feel like I am grounded on something firm and tangible," commented.

Yoga poses have been found to help increase strength and flexibility, with experts maintaining that they strengthen the upper back, shoulders, arms, buttocks, thighs, abdomen and wrists.

Yoga is also reported to help improve the cardiovascular system, the thyroid and the pituitary glands.

Posted by Freya Harper