Tough Pose Sends Yoga Devotee to the Hospital with a Stroke

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Yoga is generally considered to be a gentle, peaceful form of exercise, but even yoga can come with health risks if you push yourself too far. It happened to one yogi, and she’s sharing her story to make others more aware.

Rebecca Leigh is a 40-year-old yogi and Instagram model in Maryland. After a lot of practice, Rebecca managed to pull off a pose called a hollowback handstand. She was very excited — it’s an incredibly difficult move that involves both strength and flexibility.

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But after completing the handstand, Rebecca found herself unable to use her left arm. Then her vision started to blur. At first, she assumed that she’d aggravated the slipped disc in her neck, but a couple days later, she realized that her pupils were two different sizes. She went to the hospital.

There, doctors informed Rebecca that she’d suffered a stroke. As she was performing the handstand, a crucial blood vessel tore, resulting in a blood clot that traveled to her brain and resulted in an aneurysm.

Rebecca says that the stroke caused “massive head pain,” and “the nerve damage made any sort of light unbearable.” She also heard a whooshing sound in her ear for three months.

It’s been six months since the stroke, and although the blood vessel has healed, she still feels the effects of the stroke every day.

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Despite her injury, Rebecca continues to practice yoga.

“I know I will never be where I was before 100 percent,” she said. “I was about 75 percent back to where I was before my stroke … the fact that I can touch my toes is enough to make me smile.”

She now encourages her followers not to push past their physical limits, but instead to practice with their health in mind.

“I wanted to share my story so that something like this doesn’t happen to any other yogis,” she said.