Dean Lerner’s reply:
Hip replacements are wonderful surgical procedures that can give people many years of relatively pain-free movement. Yoga can help shorten the recovery period, stabilize and strengthen the hip joint, and aid in regaining and maintaining freedom of movement. The first thing to do, if possible, is talk to the student’s doctor regarding any recommendations or contraindications specific to your student, especially as there are now several types of hip replacement surgeries, and recommendations may vary. If the doctor is unfamiliar with yoga, bring him or her pictures of the yoga poses.
Here are a few general guidelines for those with hip replacements. Avoid certain movements, including flexion, internal rotation, and adduction (moving the leg toward or beyond the midline of the body). Poses such as Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) in particular would be contraindicated, since they incorporate these movements. Instead, it is beneficial to keep the legs apart. For example, do lateral standing poses with the legs apart, not together. In postures such as Trikonasana, take the legs apart with the front leg forward and the back leg well behind. Have the student stand diagonally on a sticky mat, with the front foot at the front of mat and the back leg near the back of the mat. In Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose), keep the feet apart. Do poses that locate the leg into the socket. Do not stand on one leg or cross the legs. Because your student is a newcomer to yoga, start with poses that give a safe range of motion and are strengthening. Soon, as your student’s confidence grows, so will his or her abilities and freedom of movement.
Certified Advanced Iyengar instructor Dean Lerner is co-director of the Center for Well-being in Lemont, Pennsylvania and teaches workshop across the United States. He is a longtime student of B.K.S. Iyengar and served a four-year term as president of the Iyengar National Association of the United States. Known for his ability to teach yoga with clarity and precision, as well as warmth and humor, Dean has conducted teacher training classes at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana and other locations.