Yoga For Life

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

On Saturday this past weekend, I decided to take an in-person yoga class called GENTLE at Evolution Yoga in Glenview, IL with Erin Ipjian, E-RYT (experienced registered yoga teacher). This was a perfect start especially since I usually overestimate my abilities. In the class, we went through various positions in lying, tabletop (hands and knees), kneeling, and standing. The whole time I kept on thinking who could benefit from these types of movements and how I could adapt the positions for individuals with joint pain, mobility restrictions, and strength deficits.


The answer: everyone! If you're curious about my experience and want to take a class from Erin, here's a link to her website.



A beautiful and essential pose. This is an extreme position for as simple as it looks because you need to be able to bend your knees under pressure, flex your ankles, and bow forward.
Child's Pose

In my short time as a physical therapist, I've examined that getting older tends to mean less flexibility, difficulty changing positions, and especially getting on the ground. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a bewildered look when asking an older patient to get on the ground. Sometimes I feel bad because I know how physically challenging it is for some individuals to get down! In order to get on the ground, here's what kind of mobility & strength they need:


  1. Ankles (about 60°)

  2. Knees (about 140°)

  3. Hips (about 120°)

  4. Back (not as significant of a bend here unless your ankles, knees, and hips are not flexible)

  5. Shoulders (about 160°)

  6. Elbows (fully straight)

  7. Wrists (about 100° to help bear weight on the hands)


Does this list seem a little bizarre? It should because that's the entire body right there. Yes, you need your FULL body to get on and off the ground. Imagine bending your knee after surgery to replace it, or putting pressure on your wrists that just don't seem to bend like they used to. If you have been avoiding putting pressure on a joint because of pain or simply haven't done a particular movement in a while, it's not going to feel comfortable. I'm always educating my patients to try to look at movement as a means to living and not as something to get through.


If you don't have the ability to perform all yoga movements, don't you worry! There are plenty of modifications available to help you start right now such as with chair modifications if you cannot get on the ground. Similarly, if you can get on the ground you will have access to things like yoga blocks and cushions to help you support various positions.


Here are a couple simple modifications for both the upper and lower body during transitions:



Think about driving your tailbone up and behind while your shoulders aim to rest near your ears.
Plank to Down Dog

Plank to Down Dog:

Think about driving your tailbone up and behind while your shoulders aim to rest near your ears.


Use a bench or counter top to unweight off the upper body.
Modified Plank to Down Dog

Modified Plank to Down Dog:

Use a bench or counter top to unweight off the upper body.


Have your lead foot aiming in the direction you will lunge, while the trail limb is perpendicular about 90 degrees.
Warrior Pose

Warrior Pose:

Have your lead foot aiming in the direction you will lunge, while the trail limb is perpendicular about 90 degrees.


You can use a bench, pole, cane, or furniture nearby to help stabilize with the transition and lunge support.
Modified Warrior Pose with Support

Modified Warrior Pose with Support:

You can use a bench, pole, cane, or furniture nearby to help stabilize with the transition and lunge support.


I had a great time in the class, and what was even more wonderful was how inspired I was to continue this awesome practice. I have the remainder of two weeks left to pick from any class I think would be appropriate. This Saturday Erin will be instructing a breath work class titled "Breathe: Exploring the Healing Power of Pranayama." I'm hoping to be there for it if I can arrange my schedule.


If you are struggling with a nagging injury, having trouble progressing after surgery, or just curious on how to get back to exercise safely after time off from the pandemic or another reason, fill out the injury screen request below. I want to help you feel comfortable again with exercise and movement!

#alwaysinyourcorner In good health,

Dr. James Babana PT, DPT, LMT


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