Barbra Brady

Returning to Yoga with a Shoulder Injury

In Today's Practice on June 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm


Barbra Brady

Barbra Brady

The shoulder injury by way of a broken collarbone by way of falling down the staircase. (Don’t try this at home or anywhere else.)


Eight weeks out, and I’m finally in a place to return to yogasana. What to do with a mending collarbone, with all surrounding soft tissue still tender and limited by way of range of motion?

A little yin yoga to release the scar tissue area. I improvised this afternoon, first some standing poses to regain overall strength. Trauma has its impact not just at the point of contact (read: smashed body parts), but systemically. Our body strives with all of its diminished capacity to heal. Regaining strength and stamina are the foundation, and foundation is of course, paramount in yoga.

Today I played with lying on my back, my injured shoulder supported by small cushions. Imagine draping the shoulder over a small, raised support, and resting for about five minutes. Gently opening the soft tissue that has been so constricted, holding on to the fractured bone for dear life. Slow release. Nice!

Another important lesson today: be Okay with yoga poses looking different than when you are in tip-top form. When you’re recovering, you are not there! Be where you are. Do a little. It does wonders for the koshas (layers of the body) that are craving a return to practice. As Mark Whitwell so sweetly reminds:

Do your yoga!

  1. I boke my collar bone and the rib bihind it. (horseback accident) It has beeing 7 now. A week ago I returned to the doctor fully expecting a clean bill of health, after all I had 6 weekd on the sling. Well the injury was worse and I need 4 more weeks with no movement. I was not even alowed to go on my boat! or camping with my cubscout! My arm is completelly dead on my side. I cannot lift my arm at all. even if I use the other hand to try to lift I cannot lift it passed the waist line!
    What poses are you capable of doing???? I could not do a downword dog, I cannot think of even one single pose
    can anyone help. I had just resumed my yoga after a few months break. My mother passed away last november and I became depressed yoga was just not working for me at that time. I got better was getting back in asana routine and bam super bad sholder injury!
    If anyone has a recomendation please email


    • Dani, I wish my recommendation were to let it ride in non-use for a month…second opinion concurs with my now going in to “fix it.” I balked, but after seeing Lance Armstrong come in third in the Tour today, when he broke his collarbone two weeks before I did, and had surgery right away…I’m going for it. I *had* been doing down dog, and swimming…maybe I interrupted the healing, maybe not.

      I just spent a week studying with Richard Miller which reminds me of the amazing work in pranayama and kriya, practices i have been cultivating for five years…they will be my practices in the coming months…
      The quiet and stillness of yoga nidra also profound in this time of physical non-movement.

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