Beneficiary Paul Nichol discovers the benefits of yoga in recovery

Thursday 22 June 2017

In the week when Help for Heroes launched its Wellbeing self-help service, a new yoga and relaxation facility was officially opened at the Recovery Centre in Catterick.

The GE Wellbeing Suite was built and equipped thanks to a huge donation of £350,000 from GE UK.

Veteran Paul Nichol uses it regularly. Originally sceptical about the benefits of yoga, the former corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps is now a complete convert!

Medically discharged with Cauda Equina Syndrome, which affects his lower limbs and spinal chord, Paul has benefited both physically and mentally from the ancient Indian form of exercise and discipline.

When he first engaged with Help for Heroes, Paul was wheelchair-bound and suffered from depression. Taking part in sporting activities, such as wheelchair basketball and rugby, boosted his confidence, self-esteem and fitness while yoga has improved his core strength to the extent that he now rarely uses his wheelchair, needing just a stick for support.

“I started off having to do the classes while seated on a chair but, such is the improvement in my balance, that I am now able to stand and to use the floor mat,”

“Having benefited so much from yoga, I have now incorporated it into my own exercise programme which I carry out regularly, on my own, either at home or in the GE wellbeing room.”

And the benefits of yoga have impacted on other aspects of Paul’s life too. As a keen golfer, having a stronger back and being able to stand for longer has improved his technique and enjoyment of the sport.

“The biggest thing for me though is that it has helped my mental strength – my mindfulness and mental stability that enables me to have a clear mind,” he said.

Wounded veterans and Service personnel able to visit Phoenix House Recovery Centre are fortunate to have the GE Wellbeing Suite at their disposal and to be able to attend some of the many classes held in it.

But, even if you can’t get to Catterick, you too can give yoga a try with the help of our series of videos, the first of which can be found here.

And it won’t just be your flexibility that improves: yoga can help you sleep better, give you an energy boost and stop cravings.

Our yoga videos though are only one element of our toolkit of wellbeing tips and techniques. Over the next three months, we will provide advice on nutrition, relaxation and sleep as well as sharing the health benefits of getting outdoors.

John Crudgington, Head of Health and Physical Wellbeing at Help for Heroes, said the aim was to provide the tools needed to be calmer, healthier, and more resilient.

“Improving wellbeing is vital to recovery. Healthy lifestyle behaviours such as taking regular exercise and activities such as yoga and relaxation have been shown to improve both physical and psychological wellbeing,” he added.

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