Greet your recovering spine each day with some simple yoga exercises. Yoga is recommended for some patients recovering from spinal fusion surgery. Make sure to get approval first from your physician before practicing yoga after spine surgery. Also be sure to practice with a knowledgeable, experienced yoga teacher who has studied yoga therapeutics and can tailor a practice specific to your rehabilitation program. Not all yoga poses are appropriate for patients recovering from spinal fusion, since twists and forward and back bends are often contraindicated. The fusion needs some time to heal and become stable, so flexing and twisting movements should be avoided.
Yoga instructors recommend only static, standing poses, rather than flowing sequences for patients who are recovering from spine surgeries. Slower, gentler styles of yoga such as lyengar yoga focus on proper body alignment and precise movements. These gentle standing and balancing poses maintain the spine’s integrity and build strength and stability without flexion and twisting. Yoga standing poses, such as Mountain Pose and Chair Pose, focus on lengthening through the spine. The Downward-facing Dog against a Wall pose also mimics a straight spine. But, again, don’t try even these gentle poses without the coaching of a yoga teacher, who can instruct you in the use of yoga props such as blocks, straps, and bolsters to support your movements and ease your way into each pose.
Find an instructor who has experience working with back surgery patients. A well-trained, knowledgeable instructor will be able to guide you in which poses you should and shouldn’t do, and can offer modifications whenever necessary. If possible, schedule some private lessons with an instructor for more individualized help in creating the right yoga practice for you.
Before beginning any yoga practice, talk with your doctor, physical therapist, or healthcare provider about adding it to your pain management plan or rehabilitation.