By Noa Glow
PAMM ASKS: I had ACL reconstruction a year back and am now starting Bikram Yoga. Should I slowly push my limit in poses like Awkward Pose, Fixed Firm, Tree Pose, Toe Stand, Head to Knee With Stretching and Spine Twisting – or just avoid these postures altogether?
Hi Pamm! Considering your knee, we suggest you move into the postures slowly and deliberately, paying close attention to your alignment and symmetry in the front mirror (in fact, we recommend you come to class early and choose a spot directly in front of a mirror in order to better observe your body). There’s absolutely no need to force yourself into any of the poses – just relax and let gravity move you. If you notice that your alignment or symmetry is off, stop at that point and let the areas of tightness or resistance stretch out. Breathe deeply into the area and do not push. Be patient: this may take a couple of weeks or months.
In terms of your ACL, be aware that the opposite side of your body (versus the injured side) is most likely stronger, and can be used during class to compensate and protect your injury. Your goal in the immediate future is to begin to re-strengthen the weaker side in order to bring balance to your body and your practice. You can do this by breaking the postures down into steps and mastering each step before you move forward. Also, don’t be afraid to use a wall for support during the balancing poses; this can be a great way to focus on your alignment and rebuild your strength.
When the postures are done with correct alignment, this beginner’s yoga class is very therapeutic and restorative. If you sacrifice alignment for depth in a pose it can be destructive, causing more injuries and aggravating old ones. We think it would be highly beneficial for you to attend one of Lisa’s Posture Clinics (details here), where she can help you go over proper form in a more intimate setting (it can be difficult for teachers to correct everyone in a busier class).