Teaching Yoga to Students Recovering from Surgery or Living with Chronic Illness: Modified Standing Poses

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Teaching Yoga to Students Recovering from Surgery or Living with Chronic Illness: Modified Standing Poses

500 hour yoga teacher training intensive courseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching Yoga to students who are recovering from surgery or living with chronic illness brings with it unique challenges and rewards. As you become a seasoned Yoga instructor, your repertoire of therapeutic techniques and modifications will expand. These therapeutic techniques, modifications and the appropriate use of Yoga props will support you in safely guiding your students through a full class. Of course, each student is uniquely challenged by his or her individual life circumstances.

In order to fully and safely support the Yoga students in your class who are living with physical challenges, it is important to be aware of their current health issues. By taking the time to acquaint yourself with each new student before class begins, and reacquainting yourself with ongoing students if their health status changes, you will be more prepared to safely guide your students through a class. The strategic use of Yoga props, including bolsters, blocks and chairs, will help the students who are living with physical challenges to participate more fully in a multi-level Yoga class.

Modified Warrior 1 Pose

Warrior 1 or Virabhadrasana is one of the fundamental standing asanas of most Yoga classes. This pose expands and stretches out the lung area, chest, neck, shoulder, back, abdomen, and groin muscles. It strengthens the legs, calves and ankles. If the posture is practiced in correct alignment, it can also facilitate the optimal alignment of the knees, which helps to promote the healing process of many knee injuries. Traditionally, Warrior 1 Pose is practiced in a standing position with both knees off of the mat.

If you teaching a Yoga student who is unable to stand comfortably, the arm movements and breathing components of the posture may be practiced while seated in a chair. If one or more of your students has trouble balancing or is healing from an injury or surgical procedure that makes practicing Virabhadrasana 1 in a full standing position difficult or painful, this posture may be practiced with the back knee on the mat. When Warrior 1 Pose is practiced in this way, the expansion throughout the front of the body is often increased, so the student will still reap a substantial benefit from practicing the posture in its modified form.

© Copyright 2013 – Virginia Iversen – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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