Judy is in a rehabilitation centre at the moment ‘finding her legs’, as she is 15 days out from double hip replacement surgery. She is a veteran yogi and also trained as a yoga teacher, and probably has about 35 years of Iyengar yoga under her belt.
Judy’s doing another kind of training now with the physiotherapists at Hunters Hill Private Hospital. These stalwart practitioners run the residential patients through their paces and are both caring and strict – tough love, you could call it.
I was in the same facility as Judy over 3 years ago, and I noticed how much difficulty the majority of patients had doing their exercise routines. It wasn’t simply the problem of learning to walk again with a new knee or hip. It was more basic than that. Many of these people couldn’t connect with their bodies to make them do what was expected of them.
Imagine the phone is ringing and not being able to find it to answer. The physios would give the patient an instruction and he or she couldn’t understand or might misunderstand what was required – making re-training the muscles a long and tiring process. Some people gave the routines only a half-hearted attempt, just to please the physios, and their exercises became less effective.
Sometimes we take for granted the benefits we get from yoga: an upright posture which helps us to breathe properly; attention to breath which helps create optimum energy; and, a sensitive awareness that lets us connect the mind with the breath and the body.
When we are well we may not fully appreciate our good health, and that’s human nature. It’s when we are coming back from illness, injury or surgery that we can take advance of the investment we’ve made in our regular yoga practice.