Yoga for mobility

At East Keswick Yoga Studio, I am often approached, tentatively (almost shyly) with a question. "I' had a hip replacement {or insert alternative surgery or restriction, this applies equally to knee surgery, pins in legs, dislocated shoulder, etc}, can I still do yoga?"

With the obvious clearance from your GP or surgeon, the answer is Yes, with a few caveats. First of all, make sure that you absolutely have the go-ahead from your medical professional to start a new yoga practice. Secondly, ensure that your yoga instructor, or other fitness professional also knows about your medical history, and any limitations you currently have. And thirdly, choose that instructor carefully.

People sometimes believe they need to become more flexible before they can join a yoga class, and this simply is not the case. I hear 'Ooh, I can't do Yoga, I'm not very bendy'. My answer is, 'You definitely would benefit from yoga'. This is over simplifying matters; yoga is not just a good stretch at the end of a gym workout.

Let me clarify...if your yoga class usually takes place in a gym or leisure centre, there is nothing at all wrong with it. But you are unlikely to get the personal service that you will get in a small group or in a private session with a dedicated trained Yoga teacher.

Furthermore, in this scenario you may well have filled in a form when you joined the gym or centre (even some large Yoga studios) however your instructor today may never have seen it. If the instructor doesn't ask about any injuries, surgery or medical issues, make sure you let them know before you start. Through the class, they should be able to guide you to modifications to assist you in the asanas (postures). Don't be embarrassed to opt out if there are any that cause you particular difficulty - it is not a competition.

There are modifications possible for all levels and for most issues. In particular, those with arthritis in hands, knees and feet do find the traditional asanas difficult, with weight on the hands and knees. Again, there are modifications and props that can be used to reduce or eliminate discomfort; it should not prevent you from enjoying the benefits of a regular yoga practice.

Yoga for those with limited mobility also takes this into consideration and will take a more gentle route to various asanas. I can guarantee if you persist and listen to your body, you will gain strength, flexibility and stamina, and the additional health benefits of yoga are too many to name here. That's for another blog post!

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