Teaching Yoga to Students Recovering from Surgery

Teaching Yoga Students Recovering from Surgery

about teaching yoga students recovering from surgeryBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching Yoga students recovering from surgery, living with chronic illness, or contending with an injury poses a unique challenge to the teacher and the students. A challenge can also be viewed as an opportunity to sink deeper into the Yogic teachings that underlie asana practice. One of the primary contemplative practices of Yoga is the awareness and implementation of ahimsa or non-violence into every level of one’s life, including all of the various aspects of Yoga.


Teaching Yoga Students Recovering from Surgery Today

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term defined as non-harmfulness in word, thought, and deed. It is one of Pantanjali’s recommended five restraints or Yamas, explained in his famous Yoga Sutras. Helping your students to understand, practice, and fully embody the concept of non-harmfulness will serve them well as they strive towards vibrant health and well-being.

The concept of non-harmfulness can be pretty tricky to understand and incorporate thoroughly. Not only does ahimsa refer to refraining from pushing your students past their physical capabilities, but it also refers to not engaging in a negative attitude about your students’ capabilities and level of commitment to Yoga.

As a Yoga teacher, if you engage in negative thoughts about the efforts and level of understanding of your students, they will indeed feel the negativity of your attitude. Carefully teach one or more students struggling to engage in a complete Yoga practice despite severe illness or injury. Please take some time to contemplate that he or she actually made it to class and is actively working towards creating better health! This alone demonstrates a substantial dedication to the Yogic practices, regardless of physical challenges.


Compassion in Teaching Yoga Students Recovering from Surgery

It is also important to remember that it can be pretty intimidating for new Yoga students to attend a multi-level class, even without an injury. Attending a multi-level class as a new student with an injury or illness takes even more courage. Additionally, seasoned students may also struggle with further physical limitations that they have never encountered before.

During class, by reminding your students to be aware of the concept of ahimsa consciously, you will help them to view their efforts from the perspective of non-harmfulness, compassion, and patience, which are critical to implementing during a period of healing from surgery, injury, or chronic illness.


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