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Yoga Insights

Asana Practice After Injury

No one likes to get injured. Injuries not only hurt, but they can also prevent you from doing what you love to do for days, weeks, or even months. If practicing yoga asanas is one of those things, having to give up some of your favorite poses can be a real challenge. Don’t despair! Yoga is so versatile that there are still several poses and techniques you may be able to do while injured.

First thing, of course, is to see a doctor and follow his or her instructions. Some injuries, many back injuries, for example, require complete rest of the whole body. With others, you may be able to do some asanas as long as they don’t aggravate the part of the body that’s injured.  

If you have hurt your foot, for example, you will likely need to avoid standing poses for a while, but you may be able to do seated or supine poses. With a shoulder injury, you may need to avoid bearing weight on your hands or shoulders or even raising or moving the injured arm, but you should still be able to do many poses that target the feet, legs, and hips.

Think of it as an opportunity to practice yoga’s more gentle poses—perhaps wrist and ankle stretches or restorative poses like Waterfall (lying with legs up the wall). A gentle twist like Bent Knee Twist may be suitable, depending on where the injury is.

Even when you can’t do much else, yoga’s Eye Exercises are very beneficial. Explore yoga breathing. Use the opportunity to spend more time practicing Yoga Sound Meditation. In the process of discovering the inner peace and happiness yoga offers, Yoga Sound Meditation will also help you develop the acceptance and patience required to get you through the healing.

Simple Inversions

Advanced inversions such as Headstand, Shoulderstand, and Plough have widely touted benefits, yet they’re not for everyone. Because they can place a lot of pressure on your neck, the risk of injury often outweighs the benefits they can bring. Doing them properly requires significant flexibility and strength. So please be cautious and don’t feel that you have to add them to your asana repertoire. In fact, there are several other safe and simple inversions that bring similar benefits without the risks.

Where We Get Our Protein Matters

One of the main things I hear when people talk about cutting meat out of their diets is that they’re afraid they won’t get enough protein. But so many foods in a vegetarian yoga diet pack a protein punch—beans, nuts, whole grains, tofu, in addition to a variety of plant-based “chicken” strips, tofurky, veggie burgers, and other mock meats that are now widely available.

Balancing Poses

I find balancing poses fun. It’s always a challenge to see how well I can balance on a particular day because not all days are the same. Some days it comes easy, other days, it can seem almost impossible to balance for more than a few seconds.

Yoga for Vitality

According to yoga scriptures, we are all eternally youthful: “For the soul there is neither birth nor death, nor having once been, does he ever cease to be.” This explains why we feel young inside, even as the image in the mirror slowly ages. The challenge is to keep our bodies in good shape so that we retain our vitality. Yoga offers us a way to do this. Just consider two of the many things yoga has to offer, diet and exercise.

Your Feet - Your Foundation

We know that a house needs a solid, even foundation for it to stand straight and strong. The same goes for our practice of asanas. Regardless of the position we place our body in, we must be grounded and secure.

In yoga’s many standing poses our feet are our foundation. So it’s important to make sure that this foundation is a solid one. How do we do this? First of all, by bringing our awareness to our feet.

Yoga in the Air

I think of flying as ‘down time’ and actually find it quite relaxing. Think about it. Once you get through the busy airport and are settled in your seat, there’s nowhere to go until you arrive at your destination—no household chores to get through, no phone calls or text, and work is on hold (unless you absolutely have to open your laptop to finish a report or something). It’s actually quite a good time to practice yoga. And there are plenty of simple exercises you can do right there in your seat. You can even meditate.


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