Okay, I’m not going to lie, most of the positions (even the image above) are slightly off limits depending on how severe your HNPP is. That being said, it’s still doable, but it will take many modifications as necessary.
Why should you do yoga?
Despite the possible injuries it can cause, focusing on areas such as your back and shoulders will make sure you won’t become completely bedridden, and crippled with back pain (this happened during my early days). It was also recommended by my neuro physiotherapist so at least that’s good news!
Here, I will walk you through a YouTube video that I regularly use for CHAIR YOGA. Yes, you heard me correctly, it exists and it still works. The main focus of yoga is to allow yourself to take time out from the stresses of worrying, because it’s easy to disconnect from your body when you loathe it for failing you. But with some changes, yoga can keep many people from completely falling off the edge.
I’ve never been particularly good, but I’ve practiced Hatha, Sivananda and Ashtanga for most of my life. Believe me, if I can do it, I’m sure you’ll do an even better job! If not, no matter, your body needs to recover.
Remember, NEVER do any moves that can potentially injure your nerves. Symptoms include a tingling sensation while doing the move or numbness. Stop the pose immediately if that’s the case. You know your body better than anyone. AND KEEP THE CASTS / SPLINTS ON.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Since writing this post, a very important issue has come to my attention by a fellow HNPP’er. Remember, breathing is the most significant part of yoga!!! Throughout the exercises, please breathe continuously in a natural flow in order to keep the muscles moving and stop lactic acid from building.
Disclaimer: Please ask your GP or medical practitioner before attempting any exercise included on this website.
So first things first – the chair has to be cushioned. Doing exercise on a metal chair could actually tweak the nerves, so either put a seat cushion on an ordinary chair or use an armchair that has the sides free! I actually use my sofa surrounded with cushions to grab at any point during the sequences.
Second of all, do not put your palms together into the Anjali Mudra position especially if you have wrist issues including wrist drop. In this case, you can just keep the arms up without contact.
I really don’t recommend the next move for people with hand issues. In this case, lightly intertwine the fingers together, keep head bowed and stretch forward. You can even hold one hand over the other instead and reach upwards into the next movement.
When holding wrists with the other hand, make sure you’re in a completely comfortable position to do so. Never do anything that makes the hands start to tingle or go numb.
In the next move, the hands can actually lightly touch the base of the skull on the back of the neck, looking upwards, without bending the wrists in this awkward position. The main stretch is the outward elbows and the neck stetch.
This move is particularly important for the back and shoulder blades. It was recommended by my neuro physiotherapist. It consists of bringing the shoulder blades back down together practicing with breaths in and out.
I wouldn’t suggest crawling on the floor for this move. The yoga instuctor also gives the suggestion to keep the arms on the thighs. Definitely stick to that.
Make sure your legs have padding underneath for this, and position the end of the chair right in the middle of your thigh avoiding the nerves near your hip or near the knee. If you have any kind of foot drop just sit in that direction. This sequence will be repeated on the both sides.
Eagle poses tend to tweak the ulnar nerves in the arms, so you can just lightly press the arms together instead. Do not lean down on to your knee, it will start blocking the nerve in your leg quite quickly.
At the beginning of the next sequence, the instructor pulls her arms backwards, intertwining the fingers. Feel free to just put one hand on top the other and reach backwards keeping the wrists straight.
In the twisting pose, do NOT lean on your leg. If there are no cushions available for your lower elbow to lean on and you’re feeling especially fragile, avoid this and just twist the body upright to that side.
As Laura (the instructor) also says, if the Warrior Two position (Virabhadrasana) tweaks your back leg, revert back to the original Goddess position.
Do not lean your arm on your leg during the side angle pose. In this case, just let your arm dangle towards the floor.
As mentioned before, eagle poses can tweak the arms so bringing the arms together lightly and stretch the neck, looking upwards. Similarly, I wouldn’t cross the legs.
In terms of holding the leg, if you can then do. If not, then try hold it underneath the thigh, and while twisting backwards, keep the leg floated and just lightly keep the hand against the knee, palm facing outwards.
And that’s the majority of modified moves! I hope it helps, it definitely gives your back a good stretch. Doing this daily keeps the strength around your spine.
Good luck yogis!