👆🏽Meet Rhonda - that's my hip's name! Yoga facilitated a rapid and successful recovery for me from wheelchair to Standing Bow Pulling Pose after a major hip reconstruction surgery in 2015.
Prior to surgery, living in Bend, Oregon you could find me on any given day rock climbing, backcountry snowboarding, running, cycling, and of course filling the gaps with my daily yoga practice. I was young, healthy, strong, and what I thought was invincible.
In 2014, while running I started having shooting pains in my lower back. That pain quickly escalated to severe hip pain. I went from long endurance runs to bedridden in what felt like the blink of an eye. Everything hurt. Even just walking around the house, or laying down comfortably was out of the question. My whole life came to a debilitating halt.
Five visits with five different orthopedic surgeons later and they all agreed—I needed a Peri-Acetabular Osteotomy. In 2015, at the age of 32, I underwent a massive pelvic reconstruction surgery to preserve my failing hips from a genetic abnormality of the hip socket called hip dysplasia.
Think chisel and saw. They cut all the way through my pelvis in five spots, they rearranged the bones, and screwed my pelvis back together. They built me a hip socket that was otherwise too shallow to support the head of my femur bone. My pelvis now looked like a jigsaw puzzle.
My surgeon told me I wouldn’t be able to do much yoga anymore. Or rock climb. Or run. I was completely devastated at this news. I went through all the emotions imaginable from fierce determination - to completely exhausting anxiety attacks.
For about four months before the operation my hips were rapidly deteriorating to the point where I had excruciating pain in everything I did. I couldn’t walk anymore—and the 26&2 yoga seemed impossible. I was lost. For the first time, I stopped my yoga asana practice because it was far too painful. I quickly realized that everything you do is attached to your pelvis—from breathing, to walking, to lifting your arms.
I craved the yoga but couldn’t figure out how to get through class. I was encouraged to try my postures in a chair because I wasn’t able to stand. In the chair I was able to take the pressure off my hip joints, and mimic the movement of the spine which gave me the benefits. It felt bizarre, and awkward, but it worked! It was working!!! The pain wasn’t so intense.
I kept up my yoga practice in a chair until the day of surgery. After the operation I had to wait eight weeks to return to yoga while my incision healed. I was completely non-weight bearing during this time. Most of this two months was spent in a hospital bed re-learning how to walk, and rebuilding a pelvis.
At eight weeks after surgery I walked in to the yoga room on crutches, laid my mat down, set up my “all-too-familiar” chair, and went one breath at a time.
I was scared for my first class back. I had been practicing yoga for eight years prior to this mess—yet my body felt so unfamiliar. How was I going to feel?
That first class I spent the whole time trying to breathe slowly and survive. Fighting back tears for 90 minutes is EXHAUSTING. Phew, I made it!
My world had suddenly shifted and rather than any attachment to the physical outcome of a posture—or what it looked like - I was discovering more about the power of thought, and the endless transformations that this yoga offers.
I kept coming back. Every day my range of motion increased, anxiety started slipping away, the pressure in my hip joints lessened, my six inch scar healed up perfectly, my damaged nerves from the invasive surgery were firing back to life, and I could stand aid-free. My livelihood was returning.
I slowly graduated myself out of the chair after several months of hard work. In class I gained the muscle strength and confidence I needed to carry on with my day to day life. As they say, the yoga begins when you leave the classroom.
After being told I wouldn’t be able to return to the activities I loved after the surgery—yoga included—I faced a downward spiral of emotions. It took me a while, but eventually it became very clear they were wrong. I was coming back even stronger - quick bone growth, return of hip mobility, and so on.
The 26&2 yoga sequence played an enormous role in where I am today. I am living, walking proof of these transformational benefits in action. Yoga is an investment in your health and vitality. You never know when you’ll need it.
You are not stuck in an injury, or a certain body, or a certain mental state. Changes don’t happen overnight. The secret to your future is hidden in your daily routine.
Hip Dysplasia Visual
PAO Surgery Visual