10 Knee Surgery Tips for Yoga Teachers

by Naomi Clark on November 16, 2014

There are some things your Bikram Yoga Practice just can’t fix & a Torn Meniscus is one of them. Once you have made the difficult decision to go ahead with Knee Surgery what can you do as a Yoga Teacher to aid the Healing Process?

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1) Choose your Surgeon wisely. This person and your body are gonna be getting very intimate – with knives! Many people I have spoken to over the years didn’t know their Surgeon’s name and hadn’t met them outside of the operating Theatre – some didn’t even know what their knee surgery was for! You may not have Private Healthcare but did you know that in the UK you have the right to choose your Surgeon using the ‘Choose & Book’ scheme? Ask your GP to refer you on the NHS (even if they practice from a Private Hospital)  http://www.chooseandbook.nhs.uk/patients/whatiscab

Talk to other yoga teachers, learn from your students, make a few appointments with recommended Surgeons in your area. Don’t be afraid of asking lots of questions about the procedure – find out exactly what they are doing; be informed. YOU are in charge of your own recovery.

‘Evidence shows that if you choose a hospital where you feel comfortable and confident, you’re likely to improve both the result of your treatment and your experience while you’re in hospital.’ www.nhs.uk

2) Prepare like you are preparing for the birth of a baby. As Yoga Teachers, we don’t get sick pay or holiday pay but you don’t want to be worrying about money when you need to be in healing mode! So save up, have some ‘Knee Funds’ in the bank. If you are a mum, wait until your child can walk him/herself to and from school without you. Get the house tidy, be on top of paperwork, let people know what’s happening and that you won’t be Teaching. Have easy meals readily available (I stocked up on Green Soup) so you don’t have to be on your feet. Take cash out handy for taxis or takeaways, stock up on essentials, the last thing you want to be doing is craving smoothies you don’t have the ingredients in for, or staring at a grubby floor when you are incapacitated. Make your inner & outer environments as relaxing and conducive to healing as possible.

3) Be firm & ask for your cannula (needle and tube used to inject anesthesia) to be put in the other hand to your writing hand. Generally, they like to leave it in ‘just in case’ but persuade your nurse to remove the cannula as soon as possible. My worst pain post-op was in my hand and infections here are very common. Soak your hand in iced Aloe Vera gel and take arnica and turmeric to reduce swelling and infection.

4) Ask a good mate to look after you not just 24 hours post-surgery (they will have to collect you in a car from the hospital – expect to feel pretty out of it) but for a week post-op also ask your buddies to check in on you. I lucked out and was given flowers, soup, candles, massages, chocolates, even curry! The people who truly love you will make an effort to visit you no matter HOW busy their lives.

5) Book yourself an ‘up and out time’ outing with friends (even if you do have to cancel they will understand) This gives you a recovery deadline & something fun to look forward to during cabin fever.

6) Know that you will have at least one down-day. This is the day of anaesthesia comedown, the ‘Black Wednesday’ of surgery. You start to process what you have been through  physically, energetically, emotionally and now the deed is done, there is no turning back. You will wonder tearfully if you will EVER again get your hips on the floor in Supta Vajrasana – you will! Use this time wisely. Yes, you can have a good boo-hoo, then take a deep breath and let it out again, meditate, drink your greens, thank your body for doing the amazing job of healing itself, congratulate yourself on being through the worst of it & remember that true yoga is about being that best we can, with what we have here and now! Dang – this IS your Yoga!

7) Be aware of any changes in your knee post-surgery even if it doesn’t hurt. If you have been sitting or walking, respond accordingly. If you’ve overdone things and the knee feels achey or swollen then apply ‘RICE’ – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. If you have ANY redness or itching call your healthcare providers and UP your Vit C levels straight away as you could have an infection. If your knee feels good then gently test the range of motion, challenge the quads, & go for a gentle, slow ‘Walk of Awareness’. Practice expanding your energy so that people don’t bump into you if you are out in public. You may not be able to practice in the Hot Room for a month or so depending on what procedure you have had but you WILL be able to tentatively feel your way through a room-temperature medicinal restorative practice – get creative!

8) Don’t DO anything while you recover – take your time to just BE. I’d planned to complete my tax return and paint the second coat on the stairs. When it actually came to it my anaesthesia-addled brain wanted to sleep, laugh with visitors (laughter is the BEST medicine) and binge watch ‘The L-Word’. In fact, I watched so many episodes on Netflix I developed a HUGE girl-crush on Shane McCutcheon – which according to Karl Williams Yoga makes me a ‘Fake-bian’ but that’s another blog…

9) Don’t Judge. The best Yoga Teachers have experienced the physical AND emotional side of injury trauma, have compassion for their students and, interestingly enough, get asked to teach the most & the busiest classes. Your healing experience makes you worth more as a Teacher – your are REAL; how about that? Visualize your knee fully functional and stronger than ever before, lock it as soon as you can, feel the smile on your face & literally feel as if your knee is glowing with a warm golden light – seriously, it works! Then know that each and every one of your Students now and in the future will benefit from your injury and subsequent surgery and/or healing journey and be thankful. What you have learnt about the physical and emotional body cannot be learnt from any Teacher Training or YouTube video and is priceless in helping others you meet on a similar journey.

10) Be VERY careful of crutches on the stairs. Sometimes, hopping is less risky. ‘Nuff said.

Be well Yogis!

Happy Knees & Namaste!

Naomi x

PS Brighton Yogis – my Surgeon was Mr Robin Turner and I stayed at The Montefiore in Hove courtesy of the NHS for which I am very grateful.

I am not a medical practitioner and am not qualified to offer medical advice but these are my personal experiences of recovering from knee surgery 🙂

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