Doing Yoga with a Prosthetic Leg: Keeping a Healthy Mind & Body

yoga with a prosthetic legAs an amputee, you can still live a happy, rewarding, and purpose-filled life. But as longtime prosthetic professionals in the Atlanta area, we know it’s not always going to be easy.

And sometimes it’s going to be hard. Very hard. But, if you have a can-do attitude, we know you’ll be amazed at how far you’ll get and what you’ll be able to do.

One thing that can help you keep a healthy mind and body is yoga. Yes, even with a prosthetic you can do yoga. In fact, we recommend it.


Yoga is an ancient healing practice

Yoga is a powerful way to stretch and strengthen the body, but even more, it’s about relaxing and calming the mind, enhancing energy and lifting the spirit. This system of holistic health and spiritual growth began five thousand years ago in India.

The belief is that physical ailments, like the leg you are missing, also have emotional and spiritual components.

People who practice yoga use postures, breathing practices, and meditation — all of which work together to balance and connect mind, body, and spirit. Yoga does mean union after all.

Many types of yoga exist. The one most common in the West is Hatha yoga, which teaches you how to relax and release tension, as well as how to strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight ones.

Key Takeaway: Yoga is a mind-body healing practice that has been around for thousands of years.


Yoga benefits for people with prosthetic legs

exercising with a prosthetic legWhile everyone is unique and individual benefits vary, the following are some ways in which yoga may be good for you. These are based on the experience of other amputees who chose yoga as a ongoing practice.

Yoga can help you reduce stress and deal with pain. When you take yoga classes, you will be taught different breathing techniques. These specific ways of breathing can be great tools to use when you are in pain. They can help you calm down and deal with the pain in a healthy way.

You will likely become more aware of your body parts and more aware of yourself as a whole — even without your leg. Back pain may be a problem for you, and yoga can ease this type of pain.

Yoga can help improve your strength and flexibility. Studies suggest that yoga can help strengthen muscles and increase flexibility.

Yoga can help keep your joints healthy. By exercising regularly, you can help avoid further damage and keep your joints healthy.

Yoga can help increase your body’s alignment. Sometimes people with prosthetics favor one leg over the other. Doing so throws off your body’s alignment. You may be limping without realizing it, but yoga can give you more awareness and help you feel more comfortable in your body.

Yoga can help you keep a positive outlook. As an amputee, it can be easy to fall into the “poor me” trap. Yoga will help you relax and be at peace with yourself and your condition.

The different poses promote an awareness of positive feelings in the body and will allow you to observe your pain with a neutral mind. In this way, pains hold on the body can be diminished.

Key Takeaway: Yoga can beneficial for people with prosthetics. Some ways it can help:

  • By reducing your stress and helping you cope with pain
  • By improving your flexibility and strength
  • By keeping your joints healthy
  • By increasing your awareness of your body and improving your body’s alignment
  • By helping you have positive feelings about yourself and life

Other teachings of yoga that can help you

Prosthetics patient performing yogaCompassion is the foundation for all yoga practice. If you are in pain and you are able to practice compassion for yourself, your body will unwind, allowing you to be more present with your situation.

Stillness is another teaching of yoga. Through stillness, a person can begin to redirect their thoughts and negative emotions toward more positive actions, such as caring for themselves, committing themselves to being well, and surrendering to a larger purpose.

Also, non-grasping is a practice of non-attachment to outcome. If you cling to pain or an idea of pain, you create more pain. But if you focus on the present, your body will relax.

Key Takeaway: Yoga has many teachings that may help you as someone who wears a prosthetic: compassion, stillness, and non-attachment to outcome are some of the lessons you can learn.


Some things you may be wondering about doing yoga with a prosthesis

Especially if you’ve never tried it, yoga can seem a little weird or unusual at first. But, give it time, and we’re confident you’ll see the benefits. After reading about yoga for prosthetics, you may have some questions. Hopefully, we can answer some of them below.

Will yoga be difficult? Yes, it most likely will be, especially at first. You will be exposed to new ways of thinking. And you might not be able to do everything right away. But when you are practicing, you should never hold a pose if it becomes painful or uncomfortable.

Will yoga be embarrassing? The truth here is that, yes, you will likely feel awkward and embarrassed at some point. But the benefits will outweigh this feeling. And choosing a class and a teacher who has experience with amputees can help out considerably.

Should you do yoga with your prosthetic on? Certified yoga instructor and below-the-knee amputee Marsha Therese Metzger recommends practicing with your prosthetic on. She sees her prosthetic as part of who she is. Wearing it can you hold and contain your limb.

Key Takeaway: Yoga may seem weird or may be difficult at first, but many people have found great success doing yoga as amputees.


An interesting study about yoga that may benefit people with prosthetics

Research by biomedical engineers at the University of Minnesota shows that people who practice yoga and meditation long term can learn to control a computer with their minds faster and better than people with little or no yoga or meditation experience.

You can read the full story here: http://discover.umn.edu/news/science-technology/new-study-shows-yoga-and-meditation-may-help-train-brain

What this means for you is that yoga gives you more control, which is especially important for people with prosthetics because it’s easy to feel like you have lost control of your life and your abilities.

Key Takeaway: Yoga can give you more control of your body and your mind.


Stories of people with prosthetics who practice yoga

Zambon served in the U.S. Marine Corps and lost both his legs in Afghanistan. Now, he wears prosthetics and practices lyengar yoga. During his first class, one pose allowed his phantom leg pain to disappear instantly.

He says yoga has helped him strengthen his body, relieve stress, and adapt more easily. He believes that through yoga practice, an amputee can develop better body awareness and make the journey to better health.

Another veteran, Sgt. Chris Montera, also lost both his legs above the knee. He says that certain poses take a lot of the pressure off his back and spine.

Also, Daniell Orner lost her leg because of cancer and now practices yoga.

She says, “In yoga, they talk about having grace in adversity. Even when your body is shaking, you still seek peace in your mind.”

She also said yoga helps her let go of competition and puts her in touch with her body. Yoga has helped her heal and strengthen her body. Imagine what it could do for you.

Key Takeaway: You can find many stories of amputees who love yoga and have used it as a way to heal.


A woman with a prosthetic yoga who founded Yoga for Amputees

military personnel with prosthetic legMarsha Danzig is the founder and director of Yoga for Amputees. She is a below-knee amputee who decided to help others move forward in their lives through the healing power of yoga.

She says she has seen amputees finally be able to release trauma from their experience. She also hopes to be an inspiration for other amputees to practice yoga.

Her organization is supported by about a dozen instructors, serving North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and Virginia. It also offers a videos series you can buy and YouTube videos for free.

Key Takeaway: You can find teachers, organizations, and videos to help you do yoga as an amputee.


At Georgia Prosthetics, we offer prosthetics and a caring team who will help you achieve the highest level of function and comfort possible

We have been serving amputees in the southeast since 1964 and offer high-quality prosthetic solutions. So whether you need a prosthetic, are looking to get a better quality prosthetic, or you want a professional team who will care for you as a whole person, consider Georgia Prosthetics.

We are passionate about what we do and would love to help you! Contact us today to make an appointment or to ask us any questions.

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