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Hospital Stays - 3 simple ways that Yoga can help

A hospital stay is inevitably stressful, no matter how kindly the staff. But it is possible through Yoga to create a self-support mechanism that helps you to cope more effectively.

Whether our hospital stay is planned or an emergency, we will probably feel a level of anxiety, fear, and negative stress. To willingly put our bodies through physical trauma is inevitably going to affect our mind/body state.

Druva Yoga Therapy helps clients to strengthen the positive aspects of mind/body connection through a series of breath & movement-based exercises, reducing negative stress and increasing our natural resilience.

Here are 3 simple ways to relieve some of the stress of a hospital stay.

Breathe Calmly

The way in which we breathe can affect both our physical and physiological state.

We pant when we have over-exerted ourselves, perhaps through running. We breathe in a fast and shallow manner if we are upset, angry, afraid. We breathe smoothly and calmly when we are feeling safe. However, it can be difficult to remember this smooth, beneficial breath if we are feeling threatened or anxious.

Yoga breath control practices (Pranayama) can help you to tap into the calming breath whenever you need to. For example, you may be about to have an injection or a necessary but painful medical procedure. Learning how to consciously control the pattern of your breath, to bring about a change in the parasympathetic nervous system, allows your body to more readily relax.


Increasing the length of your breath out (exhalation). As an example, you may breathe in for a count of 4, and breathe out for a count of 6.

Relax Muscles

Sleep is deemed to be a ‘natural healer’, but it is often difficult to sleep in a hospital environment. Unfamiliar surroundings, constant noise, discomfort from your medical procedure - these can all contribute toward insomnia or constant waking/sleeping through the night.

Yoga relaxation practices (Savasana) can help you to relax both the body and the mind. This may naturally lead you into sleep. But even if it does not, the relaxation process itself will allow the body/mind to benefit from ‘switching off’ from your unfamiliar environment. This enables a sense of regeneration to take place.


Tensing and releasing each part of your body in turn, so that your body releases any tension. Try breathing in as you tense a set of muscles, then breathing out as you release.

Visualise Movement

Movement is an important part of the healing process, but initially you may be unable to leave your hospital bed. Surgery may also mean that you are restricted in your positioning. In the same way that supreme athletes use visualisation to mentally prepare their bodies for success, you can use visualisation to begin your healing process.

Yoga visualisation practices are designed to enable you to tap into the mind/body connection to effect positive change. By imagining body movement, or picturing yourself in a positive environment, you may help to support the natural healing process.


In your mind’s eye, imagine that you are moving different parts of your body. You might like to start with the tense/release exercise, then move on to other exercises specifically related to your medical condition.


The three practices above are deceptively simple, but if used on a regular basis they can be transformative. Be aware that each practice has many, deeper, levels and this is just the starting point. Working with an experienced Dru Yoga teacher will help to guide you through the more esoteric aspects.

Yoga is a wonderful, practical adjunct to our daily lives, but particularly beneficial during those times of life when we are in need of greater support.

These are all practices that need practising - as with any other activity, you will become more proficient the more effort you put in. In other words, if you know that you have a hospital stay looming, start now! If you would like some help getting started, check my 'Listen' page for some inspiration.



Michelle Helstrip

Founder - DRUVA Yoga Therapy & Wellbeing

Further Reading

‘From mental power to muscle power – gaining strength by using the mind’

VK Ranagnathan

‘Strength gains by motor imagery with different ratios of physical to mental practice’

Mathias Reiser, Dirk Busch, Jorn Munzert

‘Do visualization exercises help build strength?’

Elizabeth Quinn


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