My Hip Replacement & Yoga

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Sheffield Yoga Centre teacher Caroline Anschutz recently had a hip replacement operation and amazed physiotherapists with the speed of her recovery.  Caroline told us how her Iyengar yoga practice helped the healing process

Last year I finally realised that I had to do something about the pains I had had in my left hip for years. They now stopped me from doing two of the most important things for me; walking and yoga. I had put up with restrictions for a long time but when you can’t even cross your legs without pains you know it’s time to see a specialist.

Caroline in hospital bed

Straight after the operation

So last October I was recommended to have a total hip replacement as severe osteoarthritis in my left hip with a cyst had been diagnosed and I was very happy that the operation was done at the beginning of January of this year. The NHS showed itself once again from its best side as I didn’t have to wait long and the operation was done at Claremont hospital.

Fortunately, I had kept active for a long time, even attempting part of the West Highland Way in early September, keeping up my (now rather limited) yoga practice and teaching my classes until the middle of December; but only with the help of lots of pain killers! I found it increasingly difficult, though, to do even the most basic poses (e.g. Parsvakanasana and Baddha Konasana) and walking for longer than 15 minutes was agony, even with medication.

So when the day of the operation came I was both happy and scared at the same time: what if the operation didn’t work? Would I be able to teach yoga and walk for longer distances again? Everybody I spoke to before the operation said that I would be fine and would make a full recovery because of the yoga – but what if…?

I needn’t have worried! Of course, I felt awful soon after the operation but even then I was able to move in bed doing a simple version of Chatushpadasana (Bridge Pose). On the next day I had to get up and stand up straight – here Tadasana was a great help – the physiotherapist was amazed at my balance (and those who know me know that balancing has never been my strong point). And Savasana you can do in a hospital bed, too! And after 2 and a half days was able to go home.

coming down the stairs at home

Coming down the stairs at home

And so it went on. From the first few steps with crutches and doing the recommended exercises from physiotherapy. These really were adapted yoga poses, I found. So even within a week I practised Tadasana (with support from a wall), half Uttanasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana to a chair, always remembering to lift my front thighs, keep my hips narrow and not to bend my hip for more than 90°. As my leg muscles healed and became stronger I could do more. Chatushpadasana was on the physio programme anyway and once I could get up from the floor I introduced Supta Padangustasana 1 and eventually 2. The standing poses have been a great help – Trikonasana, Virabdhrasana 1 and 2, Uttanasana, Parsvottansana, Prasarita Padottanasana (not going down) and Ardha Chandrasana are still on my daily programme.

Walking also became easier. After a fortnight I could walk distances which had been impossible before. Of course I had to use crutches and it took another couple of weeks before I could start to put my full weight onto my operated leg, but the progress was incredible. The physios referred to me as the “yoga lady” and discharged me quite quickly from their programme.

First 500m “walk” at Redmires after 1 week

First 500m “walk” at Redmires after 1 week

After 6 weeks I was lucky enough to join the Therapy Class at Sheffield Yoga Centre. Under the expert guidance of Frances I have been working further on strengthening my muscles and increasing my range of movements. I can’t believe that I can now do Swastikasana, Baddha Konasana and other asanas so easily and pain free, poses which I had struggled with last year.

Now my husband and I go for regular short walks (about 1 – 1 ½ hours) and also some longer ones, the highlight was recently when we walked along the edge of Kinder for about 5 hours. I couldn’t have done that last December.

On Derwent Edge after 2 months

On Derwent Edge after 2 months

I am convinced Yoga is the reason for my quick recovery. Through regular practice my body has become more flexible and my muscles stronger over the years. As I had to keep this up to be able to teach this discipline has also helped me with doing the physio exercises regularly after the operation and soon doing more yoga asanas.

And, of course, the relaxation techniques and pranayama we learn in yoga are invaluable in times of recovery.

It is very humbling to experience on your own body and mind what you have been teaching for years – that yoga asanas and pranayama really help you to regain physical and mental health. How often have I said in class: Lift your front thigh muscles, keep your hips narrow? To realise that these instructions are part of the healing process is truly enlightening.

I know that I have to be patient and not do too much for a time but what does that matter? It is such a joy to be able to move freely and without the pain!

After 3 months I have started teaching again and I hope that I can pass on what I have learned in this time to my students. Best of all, that it has been such a positive experience.

Caroline Anschütz, May 2017

Caroline has been practising yoga for over 20 years and has found that it helped her to cope with stress at work.  Now being retired, she completed her teacher training in October 2011.  She regularly attends workshops and conventions to improve her own practice.

Caroline teaches the following classes at Sheffield Yoga Centre: New Starter, Beginners Level 1 / 2, Slower Paced Beginners Level 2 and assists Frances with her Therapeutic class.  Click here to see class times

 

Caroline in Ardha Chandrasana

Ardha Chandrasana on my ‘bad’ leg