YOGA and THR - Update May 2011
Below is an account of my experience doing yoga after bilateral hip replacement. I am a serious Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily practice. The good news is that each year I continue to get stronger and have more facility and subtlety in my practice.
Over the years I have made many observations about my own practice and I am anxious to know about the yoga experiences of other yogis and yoginis with THR.
Please consider this page as an open invitation to dialog. I will post all responses to this in "blog style". -NR
For newbies, if you do not know any of these poses by their Sanskrit or English names, you can look them up on the Yoga Journal site's pose index.
Hopefully I can find some images to use in the near future (suggestions appreciated)
My own yoga practice is very full - because of my posterior-lateral incision I am allowed to do any externally rotated pose - which is most everything!
For practicing yoga with an anterior incision
CLICK HERE to read the detailed experience of a yogini with bilateral anterior hip replacements.
For a few observations on yoga with an anterior incision from a senior Iyengar teacher, visit George Purvis.
There are a few precautions for practicing with a posterior/lateral incision:
I never twist toward my thigh if the leg is bent and pulled across the body (simultaneously flexing, internally rotating and crossing my leg across the midline) and I never go below 120 degrees in a revolved standing pose.
So I don't do these poses at all:
1. Marichyasana III (Marichi's Pose) When this pose is done in a class I do Marichyasana I instead.
2. Pasasana (Noose Pose) In class I will do the Iyengar Marichyasana I variation with a chair - standing with the wall leg bent at 90 degrees on a chair and twisting toward the wall.
3. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) I do Marichyasana I in class instead.
Furthermore, for safety I modify all the twisted versions (pavritta) of standing poses.
Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) - I do this pose with my hand on a chair so I am very high as pictured, or at the wall, both hands on the wall as I twist and bend forward.
Photo taken in private session with Roxlyn Moret circa 2005
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) - I do an open variation twisting away from the bent leg or just a forward lunge.
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose) - I do this pose with my foot on the wall and two blocks for my hands that I move forward and to the outside of the standing foot.
Other standing poses that can be tricky include:
Garudasana (Eagle Pose), which I do but I stay upright.
Gomukhasana, (Cow Face Pose) - which I also do but I sit up on at least one block. The advisability of this pose is questionable, but the bent knee does not cross the midline and we are not bringing the knee to the chest, so I think it is ok.
There are other poses I find difficult even though they are not positionally restricted after THR. I think this is because the surgery cut through specific muscles needed for the pose, or that these muscle groups atrophied to some extent before surgery and are still weak - or possibly because of limitations of the stability, size and/or the mobility of the prostheses itself.
Thus, I have trouble balancing in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon pose) and Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3). I feel less stable on one leg with the hip rotated either to the side or forward.
To deal with this limitation, in class I do Ardha Chandrasana with my back to a wall or with the sole of my foot on a wall.
I do Virabhadrasana III with my hand on high blocks or on the wall (or horse).
I would say the same about Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split). I feel unstable with my standing hip rotated down so I put both hands on the floor.
I also have trouble in Vrksasana (Tree pose) and Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose) - not because I can't balance, but because my TFL (tensa fascia lata) and glute muscles are too weak and my hip swings out to the side too far. I have just started to really work on this problem by doing a lot of the "clam shell" exercises.
Padmasana (Lotus Pose) is still a challenge for me. I have good external rotation in my left hip but not my right so I have a lot of discomfort. And that goes for the Arhda (half) variations. I sit up as high as necessary on blankets to accomodate the stiffer hip.
Some good news - I have just started to kick up in Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) at the wall. See the photo of my very first solo unassisted handstand (ok - it is not perfect, but I got there)! I was terrified to attempt this pose for years and sure I was unable to do it. Finally I was encouraged to do some "donkey kicks" with the second leg bent and that helped a lot.
I can only get up with one of my legs. The right hip which I had done in 2007 is much stronger and more secure so I can really push off on it. The left will be more of a challenge.
What is your experience doing yoga post-THR???