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Tips for Rebuilding your Yoga Practice after Surgery

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Stepping back onto my mat I thought I could just pick up where I left off but instead I felt like I had to start from scratch


I have never really been one to sit and relax. My idea of relaxation is to go for a run, paddleboard yoga or just get upside down on my mat. So, to be told I would have to take it slow after my laparoscopy surgery didn't really process well with me. I nodded politely thinking, sure I know my body I will be back doing my yoga within days. Admittedly, the doctors did keep telling me that 2 weeks post-surgery I should find I can return to a normal routine, but 2 weeks is too long for me.


Yoga has served my body and mind well, particularly in recent months as I progress through my 200hr yoga teacher training course, I felt my body was stronger and more able than ever and my mind was sharing this journey. I felt they were in unison for once, and it was extremely peaceful. I had just handed my notice in at work to begin my yoga journey while picking up freelance surveying work to tie me over. And further to that my husband and I had just found out we were pregnant. All I had worked for and dreamed of was being served to me at once. I felt blessed and overwhelmed for this next chapter.



The next 24 hours were excruciating. I know my body and I knew this wasn't right.

My notice was handed in on the Friday and I was preparing myself for new work and new life balances. However, by the Sunday morning I knew something was seriously wrong. Being an extremely active person, I decided I would go to my early Netball game and play through the first few months of my pregnancy. Nothing wrong with that, women everywhere do it all the time. However, during my game, I was suddenly unable to run, jump or even walk during play. I knew something was wrong.


The next 24 hours were excruciating. I know my body and I knew this wasn't right. I was unable to walk on my left leg and I could not sit down without an intensely uncomfortable pressure. My husband made the decision to take me to the A&E. In my heart I knew what this was and within an hour I had scans and blood tests to be told I was having an ectopic pregnancy and wouldn't be leaving without surgery.


I was reassured that the surgery would be the least intrusive measure possible to remove my fallopian tube. I have undergone open abdominal surgery in the past and I knew recovery is slow and painful so I felt reassured that having laparoscopic surgery would aid my recovery. As sad as this moment was, we both felt we should be strong and grateful that this moment could have gone a whole different direction.


Post-Surgery


Being told to rest up was hard to take, but I thought I should try. I left hospital the day after surgery having attempted some breathing exercises and minor restorative stretches while in my hospital bed. I got home and found that I was too tired physically and mentally to do what I had anticipated would be possible from day one! I looked at my yoga mat with utter disgust. No chance!


Four days later (this is good going for me!) and I had enough of sitting and doing researching and planning for my yoga classes. I wanted to DO yoga! I am so ready to do this, I am good at yoga, my body is strong, I just need to be careful of my abdomen. Here I go... I stepped onto my yoga mat and with the saddest sigh realised I was weak. My urges to do headstands was never going to happen, I even struggled with simple side stretches. Where had my flexible hamstrings gone, the strength I had built in my arms and of course my core? It then hit me I need to start rebuilding my strength and flexibility now if I hope to maintain and progress in the coming weeks.


Get Inspired

I sat on my bed and began to just do small restorative movements. I soon learned what did work and what was too much for me. It meant I could look at my yoga with a fresh perspective. I have always favoured the fast-paced flows, ashtanga and rocket yoga. This meant I would have to learn to slow it down, breathe, listen deeper and enjoy a practice I had always made my last choice. And I loved it. The journey even lead me to create a post-laparoscopy surgery yoga flow which allowed me to build my strength and flexibility and three weeks in I am able to get up on my head again (slowly and carefully, listening to my body and knowing when I can and cannot push myself).


Important: If you are on a restricted activity you should respect the advice given by your healthcare professional and consult them before returning to your practice

Tips & I learned from this experience that:

1. We all progress at different rates and all our bodies are #unique

2. Release any expectations you have; things will be different now and could be for a while, take your time, don't count the days, count the #progress you and you alone are making. Meet your body where it is and be proud you are making this journey

3. Show self #compassion as you rebuild your strength and flexibility as you won't be where you were before this journey started. Go slowly, you have just had surgery which has caused major trauma to your body. Listen and love yourself deeper than ever.

4. Push a little! Don't become #disheartened or #complacent, hear your body and where to experience challenges and respect your body's boundaries. Know the difference between pain and discomfort and when it is okay to back away from a challenge or when to meet your #edge with a sooth full breathe

5. New perspective - this is the perfect time to change any bad habits you have, focus on the smaller changes that will enhance our practice, such as hand positioning in downward dog. Transition with integrity. This allows you to play with your yoga practice and see love in poses you may not have loved before

6. Most of all show gratitude for your inner strength and ability to be working through this journey and being able to regrow and having such opportunities.






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