Yoga Students Recovering from Surgery: Restorative Forward Bends

Teaching Yoga to Students Recovering from Surgery or Living with Chronic Illness: Restorative Forward Bends

yoga alliance certification courseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching Yoga to students who are recovering from surgery or living with a chronic illness is an opportunity to let your knowledge of therapeutic Yoga practices guide you in leading your class through a creatively-sequenced set of poses, pranayama exercises and meditation practices that are specifically geared towards helping your physically challenged students heal from surgery, injuries or long standing chronic illnesses.

Many Yoga poses may be done in a restorative fashion, which will further enhance the sense of profound relaxation that is often felt at the end of class when the vrittis or thought waves of the mind slow down or even stop for a period of time. The calming and eventual stilling of the mind is one of the most important aspects of Yoga practice, according to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In fact, it may even be said by some practitioners that the essence of all Yogic practice is to still the mind, so that the adherent may know God.


In the case of a Yoga student who is currently struggling with physical health issues, the calming of anxious thoughts and frustration over their health challenges will give the student a much needed break from the perpetual cycle of worry. Some Yogis or Yoginis may not struggle with anxiety or frustration over serious health issues, but many of us do, and a break from the cycle of anxious thoughts will help the body to quiet and rest, thereby facilitating the healing process.

* Restorative Seated Forward Fold

Seated Forward Fold may be practiced restoratively or actively. Forward bending asanas are inherently calming to the mind. If the asana is practiced restoratively with a Yoga bolster, block and blanket, the mind will be further soothed as the leg and back muscles are allowed to release deeply-held tension and stress. In order to practice Seated Forward Fold in a restorative fashion, have your students bring a bolster or block to their mats and a blanket to sit on if their hips are tight.


To begin, instruct your students to sit on their mats in a straddle position and place either a Yoga bolster (preferred) or a block lengthwise between their legs. With an inhale, ask your students to raise their arms overhead and with the next exhale, reach forward over the prop and drape their arms on either side of the bolster or block, while resting their foreheads comfortably on whichever prop they are using.

The prop should be high enough so that your Yoga students feel comfortably supported without straining, yet still receive enough of a stretch. Have the students hold the pose for three to five minutes while breathing deeply and comfortably. When they have completed practicing Seated Forward Fold, with the next inhale, have them sit up slowly and remove the bolster or block. Before continuing to the next Yoga pose, ask your students to rest for a moment or two in Easy Seat and relish the quiet center within themselves.


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

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