Simple, breath-based movements can be helpful for practitioners hoping to return to their practice after an injury or undergoing surgery. It’s something yoga teacher Cyndi Lee knows well: four days after her second hip replacement, Lee tried doing some gentle movements along with her breath—from her bed. The founder of OM Yoga Center in New York City quickly realized that these simple postures didn’t just help her reclaim her identity as a yogi, but also gave her a sense of wholeness within her body.
“If you’ve been cut open and pulled apart, it’s hard to feel integrated with your body,” she says. “But when you coordinate even the simplest movements with your breath, it’s a gathering together of your body and mind that can help you feel that integration again.”
Here are a few poses that Lee says helped her ease back into her practice and teaching.
Pranayama with simple arm movement
Sit on the edge of your bed or in a comfortable chair with your back straight and your feet planted on the ground. Inhale for a count of 4 (or less, if that’s more comfortable) and exhale for a count of 4. After a few rounds of this equal-length breathing, add some arm movement. On each inhalation, lift your arms out to your sides and up toward your ears, and on each exhalation, bring them back down to rest beside your hips. Do this as many times as you want.
Gentle side bend
On an inhalation, raise your left arm out to the side and above your head so that your biceps are beside your ear. On an exhalation, gently bend your torso toward your right, feeling a stretch in your left side. On an inhalation, return to standing and repeat on the other side. This basic movement helps open your lungs, rib cage, and back—all of which can get really tight and funky when you’re in bed for extended periods of time.