knee replacementBy Michael Gleason

What should teachers and students know about Yoga after a knee replacement? Making the time to exercise, as well as being present, in our fast-paced culture can prove challenging.  And sometimes we get lucky and have a good exercise routine supplemented with the right mix of yoga and meditation down to a science.  Unfortunately, something unanticipated happens, such as a serious accident (traffic) or fall prey to something heredity like osteoarthritis.[1] One of these events could lead to needing a knee replacement.  In addition to frustrations such as being in traction or limited mobility this knee replacement needs a game plan for getting back to the gym and our yoga practice.

Once a patient is cleared by their surgeon to get back to their old groove, yoga after knee replacement is ok.  However, patients with total replacements will find a difference in their range of motion.[2]

Due to the changes in motion, and your doctor not wanting you to put much stress or muscle antagonizing, at first a good starting for yoga post knee replacement is the chair style.  Used in offices and nursing homes just eight basic poses will help get back into your yoga practice.  Again, make sure you clear these positions with your surgeon or therapist.  Also, always tell your yoga instructor if you have had knee replacement or have any other issues such as lumbar spasm.  Make sure to hold these poses for at least three to five deep breaths, this will also release tension and stress.  And only stick to what you can do.  These eight poses[3] are:

– Mountain

– Extended mountain

– Chair pose (the modified position is fine, too)

– Press-Ups

– Easy back bend

– Hip circles

– Tree pose

– Down dog with chair

Once you are making progress and are ready for more yoga after a knee replacement or knee injury here are the next eight poses.  Continue to use the same trend of holding each pose for three to five deep breaths.

– Shoulder shrug

– Fan pose

– Rib circles

– Side bends

– Seated spin twist

– Wide legged fold

– Hamstring stretch

– Seahorse

A yoga instructor should also want to know about how to handle students with osteoarthritis of the knees, too.  A study done in 2007 at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona (NJ) looked at the effects of Iyengar Yoga and strengthening exercises for people living with osteoarthritis – as well as knee replacements.  While Chair Yoga uses generally one prop, the chair itself, Iyengar uses different elastic straps and blankets and blocks.  Not only does this end up with more strength training, or a catalyst for muscle memory, but also provides the student for more chances to be balanced by these different devices.[4] A roughly one hour class went through these 14 poses:

– Mountain pose

– Standing extended triangle pose

– Standing lunge pose

– Staff pose, seated on floor with legs extended, seated on blanket

– Supine mountain pose, head supported on blanket

– Supine foot pose, continued head support on blanket

– Standing hand pose

– Standing deliberate stretch pose

– Standing pose Prasarita Padothanasana, student is bent forward holding onto the seat of a chair

– Seated restrained angle pose, assisted by belt

– Supine stretched foot pose, also assisted by belt

– Warrior pose, seated on blanket with knees flexed to the sides, buttocks on bolster

– Seated cross-legged pose, student still seated on blanket

– Supine relaxation pose, head on blanket