Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Modified Chair Yoga: Sun Salutations With a Broken Ankle Version 2

As promised I've got the second version of seated Sun Salutations right here. This series involves the legs but requires little to no weight bearing on the lower extremities. It does, however, get the lower back and core engaged helping to get the blood circulating and muscles working. It can be used as a stand alone practice or done after the first sun salutation series I posted here. The choice is yours...this is your practice. As always, please be sure to check with your own Dr. or PT to ensure your own safety. This is not meant to be a substitute for doctors' orders.

Prep work:
  1. Be sure you've discussed your restrictions and limitations with your doctor or physical therapist. I'm neither of these so I cannot advise you what you're able to do or not do. Don't risk getting re-injured!
  2. Listen to your body! If it hurts don't do it. If a pose isn't already in your wheelhouse and you find it challenging then this is not the time to try to learn it. 
  3. Find a chair or stool that you can comfortably use and allows you some range of motion (armrests are limiting). Depending on how much weight you can put on your injured limb you may need to have your seat higher (or lower) to accommodate that need. Pillows or blankets might be helpful and a yoga mat on the seat can help prevent slipping off of your chair. I used a shower chair which has adjustable legs. This allowed me to raise and lower the seat for different poses and at different stages of healing. Many studios use regular metal folding chairs.
  4. You might find it more comfortable to use a block or book under your "good" foot to even things out.
  5. Although sun salutations are meant to be a warm up I would suggest starting your practice with a few minutes in Savasana, or corpse pose, to connect with your practice and then moving into a few minutes deep yogic breathing or Pranayama. Alternating leg lifts and puppy pose are also a nice warm up addition. You can see these exercises demonstrated here
  6. If your practice allows you might enjoy doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations Version 1 (found here) before starting this version. 
Sun Salutations (version 2):

Starting with arms at the sides take a deep breath in and on an exhale place your hands in anjuli mudra (prayer position).

Inhale arms overhead:

Exhale, press your abdomen toward your spine (imagine your belly button trying to touch your back bone)  and fold forward. Don't fret if you can't reach the ground. Instead, reach for your ankles or shins or even your knees. The idea is to add a stretch (without strain) to the low back and to compress the internal organs.

Inhale and rise up to a "half-lift" by pulling your shoulder blades toward each other, shoulders down. Imagine your chest and neck opening to the sky. Use the chair for leverage, if it feels right, by pushing the seat away and sending the chest forward even more. A slight arch in your back might happen, just be sure not to allow your head to drop back and pinching the neck.

Exhale and bring your right knee up toward your chin grasping your knee. Bring your forward toward your knee. Again, if the range of motion doesn't allow full expression then do what you can. Perhaps your knee will only come waist high and the forehead will be far from touching the knee. It's okay. Just grab the knee at what ever level you can comfortably manage (safety first) and drop your chin to your chest. Do not compromise your safety by forcing your body into a pose.

Inhale and, while still holding the knee in the same position, lift your chin to the sky. Be mindful of your neck and do not allow it to just drop all the way back as this can cause pain.

Exhale and place the right leg back down while folding forward, hands toward the ground.

Inhale to halfway lift:

Exhale and bring the left knee up, grasp it (if possible) and bring your forehead toward your knee. Be mindful of what your body will allow. There should be no strain, no pain, no pinching. You're engaging your core but for the most part this should feel like a release and nice stretch.

Inhale and, while still holding the knee in the same position, lift your chin to the sky. Be mindful of your neck and do not allow it to just drop all the way back as this can cause pain.

Exhale and place the left foot back on the ground and fold forward toward the ground:

Inhale arms back over head, reaching tall through the waist:

Exhale back to anjuli mudra. Repeat this sequence 8-10 times (if possible):

Final Relaxation: A few minutes of Savasana (corpse pose) is the best way to end your practice. It helps connect you to your practice, aid in recovery, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, increase focus and decrease anxiety. Lay on your back in a neutral, comfortable position with your eyes closed...legs about mat width apart and arms away from the body with the palms facing up. If you can, go through a few minutes of tensing and then releasing the muscles of the body starting with the feet, the calves, the thighs and moving all the way up to the top of the head. Relax your internal organs, your forehead, your jaw, your tongue. Relax your mind. Turn your focus on the space between the eyebrows, feel your breath coming in and out of your nostrils. Relax, relax, relax. Stay here as long as you like.

When it's time to get up move slowly. Start by deepening your breath and then stretch your arms overhead, stretching as if you're just waking up in the morning. Roll to one side into a fetal position and rest here just a moment. and then slowly push yourself up to a seated position.

Summary Photo Sequence:

Note: Sun Salutations are meant to flow with the breath. This means that for every inhale and every exhale we are moving to a new position. However, if you find this difficult you may add breaths as necessary. Just try to keep with the flow as best as possible and it will become easier. This is your's not meant to be perfect, it's only meant to connect you to your true Self.

I hope you enjoyed this photo tutorial.


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