Cataracts and Yin Yoga

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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Cataracts and Yin Yoga

Post by Bernie »

I recently received the following question from D:
  • I have not seen this question discussed: What are the safest yin poses to do during the first week of recovery after cataract surgery? I practice yin and vinyasa at home and will be undergoing cataract surgery in a few days. I know inversions in which the head is lowered such as forward bends, downward dog, etc. are to be avoided but what about legs up the wall? Is there any pressure on the eyes or stress in that pose? Vinyasa may be out of the question for a couple of weeks but what about yin?

    Could you please give me guidance on specific yin poses that are safe during that first week of recovery after cataract surgery? Should yin be avoided altogether and if so, when would it be safe to resume? Online I have found only general guidelines, the same as those given to me by my surgeon.
Hello D.

This question was asked a couple of years ago and you can check out my response here. Specifically, to your question, first, for anyone who does not know, cataract surgery is a generally safe procedure performed to remove a cloudy lens from the eye and replace it with an artificial lens. I have had both of my eyes done this way and I would liken the experience to going to the dentist to get a cavity filled. All in all, it is a pretty benign procedure for the vast majority of people.

During the first week after the procedure, there is some risk that pressure in the eye could build up and cause problems. This is rare, but care should be taken during that period to avoid postures and movements that could increase eye pressure. Thus, your ophthalmologist will generally recommend you avoid lifting heavy weights for a couple of days post-op. I was advised against doing any strong, active yoga, and logically it makes sense to avoid inversion and really active practices, like strong vinyasa flows, for several days.

You will generally go see your ophthalmologist a week after the surgery and at that time he or she will give you further advice. In my case I was given the all clear to resume my normal activities.

Your question is – should we do yin yoga during the first week after the operation? My answer would be – yes! Do yin yoga. However, I am not a doctor or therapist so do ask your ophthalmologist as well. Because of concerns about increased interocular pressure, please stick to yin yoga postures that are horizontal (like Sphinx, Seal, Bananasana, Reclining Twists, Saddle and Half Saddles) and seated postures (like Shoelace, Square, and Deer). Mild forward folds should be safe too (like Butterfly, Caterpillar and Straddle) as should Supported Bridge. Avoid wall postures which raise the feet above the head or inversions like Snail pose.

If you experience any discomfort, pain, changes in vision, or other symptoms, stop practicing and go see your ophthalmologist.

Cheers, Bernie
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