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Yoga With a Broken Wrist

My neighbor, who is in her mid-60s and an avid cyclist, recently broke her wrist and cannot ride for six weeks. She has arthritis in her legs and depends on her bike to keep her joints moving. Which beginner yoga poses can you suggest for her?

By Barbara Benagh

—D

Barbara Benagh's reply:

Bummer! A broken bone certainly does cramp a cyclist's style. As an avid cyclist myself, I know one of the joys of the sport is being outdoors. So, even before suggesting yoga, encourage your neighbor to walk. She will enjoy many of the same benefits she receives from cycling, as well as more bone building than cycling provides.

Do encourage your friend to start doing yoga—not just as a replacement for cycling in the short term but as a perfect complement to the sport anytime. Though cycling is wonderful for cardiovascular fitness and the legs, it can also have negative side effects. Cyclists are notoriously tight in their hips and legs and often have neck and lumbar problems and rounded upper backs.

Take your neighbor to a beginner's class with you or teach her some simple standing poses like Vrksasana (Tree Pose), which will maintain her balance, as well as Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Utthitta Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose). These and other standing poses will keep her hips and legs moving. Your neighbor may find raising her arm painful, so she can just rest her top hand on her hip.

Standing and seated forward bends and twists such as Prasarita Padottanasana (Widespread Standing Forward Bend) and Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) will also maintain movement and flexibility in her hip joints. Upavistha Konasana (Open Angle Pose) and Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose) are especially good for cyclists.

Also, think ahead to when your neighbor's cast is removed. Her wrist will be stiff and her arm muscles atrophied. Since she is in her 60s, she cannot afford to be complacent about recouping either the strength or the flexibility in her wrist. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) is a great wrist and arm strengthener, though she will probably only be able to do it for short stretches at first. Therapy after such a serious injury will be uncomfortable and require perseverance, so lend your support. Most of all, encourage her to get back on the bike!

Barbara Benagh, YJ's 2001 Asana columnist, founded the Yoga Studio in Boston in 1981 and teaches seminars nationwide. Currently, Barbara is writing a yoga workbook for asthmatics and can be reached at www.yogastudio.org.
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