Doing Asanas with an Injury

An injury can put a damper on your asana practice, but don’t let it keep you from practicing altogether. Yoga has so many poses that it’s usually easy to find asanas that don’t affect the injured area. Some will even help heal it.

Depending on the type of injury you’ve suffered, you may need to rest that part of your body completely. Pulled muscles and ligaments require complete rest. But you can still practice asanas that strengthen the surrounding muscles. For example, if you’ve hurt your knee, you can strengthen the hamstring and quadriceps muscles of the thighs. When these muscles are strong, they work hard for you, taking stress and pressure off the joint, allowing it to heal more quickly.

Many physical therapy exercises are yoga-based; it’s just a matter of knowing which ones to practice. So ask your doctor or therapist which movements are good for you and which you should avoid. Find out which muscles you need to stretch or strengthen, then practice the appropriate poses. Take care to avoid any movements that could cause further damage.

Even if you have to give up most of yoga’s basic asanas for a while, you may still be able to do exercises that loosen the joints (such as shoulder, ankle, and wrist rotations) and neck or eye exercises. And, of course, you can always practice pranayama and meditation. Injuries are stressful. Breathing and meditation help to calm and revitalize both mind and body, giving you the energy you need to cope and heal.

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