Sunday, April 21, 2013

Teaching Yoga to Students Recovering from Surgery or Living with Chronic Illness: Supported Inversions

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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

If you are teaching Yoga to students who are struggling with a chronic illness, recovering from surgery or healing from an injury, you may feel intimidated as you try to figure out how to safely include and challenge these students. The very first step to teaching students who need special consideration is to make sure you are generally familiar with each student’s current level of health. 

For example, if one of your Yoga students is recovering from a head injury he or she sustained in a car accident a few months ago, this is a critically important piece of information for you to be aware of, especially when leading your class through the practice of inversions. Inversions increase pressure on delicate nerves and brain tissue that may just be healing, potentially further exacerbating a head injury. 

This is only one example of a vast array of physical challenges with which your students may be living with at any given time. By maintaining an awareness of the current status of your Yoga students’ health, your will be able to creatively sequence and modify traditional Yoga asanas, in order to better fit your students’ health needs. You will also be able to safely include them throughout the entirety of your Yoga class. 

* Supported Legs Up the Wall Pose

Inversions are wonderful poses for circulating fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the entire body. Practiced restoratively, inversions can also be profoundly relaxing and rejuvenating. The practice of supported inversions, such as Headstand, Handstand and Plow Pose, can be accomplished by practicing against a wall or with a number of blankets and possibly a Yoga chair.

Supported Legs Up the Wall Pose is a very simple but profoundly effective inversion that many of your students will be able to practice safely. Do remember to be very vigilant about recommending that any student recovering from a head injury may want to refrain from practicing this posture and rest instead in Shavasana with a Yoga bolster under their knees. 
To begin the practice of Supported Legs Up the Wall Pose, ask your Yoga students to place their mats perpendicular to the wall and sit with one hip flush up against the wall. When the class is ready, have them lie on their Yoga mats and gently swing their legs up the wall. The buttocks should be up against the wall and the feet gently flexed. 

Instruct your Yoga students to hold this pose for five to ten minutes. The relaxing and introspective aspect of the asana may be further enhanced by using an eye bag. When the students have completed their practice of Supported Legs Up the Wall Pose, ask them to roll to their right side and gently push themselves up and sit in Easy Seat.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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1 comment:

Mary Wilson said...

Inversions are wonderful poses for circulating fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the entire body but always should keep in mind precaution while practicing any yoga asana according to current health status.