Post-laparoscopy Yoga Sequence

Claria Yoga_upper back 2 BW

Laparoscopic surgery is one of Western medicine’s marvels, as it enables surgical treatment to be carried out using one or more small incisions without the need to be cut open. As a result, recovery time is less and post-surgery pain isn’t as prolonged or intense.

As with any surgery, abdominal laparoscopies still involve bed rest and cautious movement, which can cause the rest of the body to feel uncomfortable and sluggish. It is remarkable to see how much we depend on our core for most of our day-to-day movement.

So how do we keep the rest of our body agile after this type of surgery?

My surgery

Today is Day 5 following my ovarian laparoscopic surgery that involved the doctors making four incisions in my abdomen to remove a tumour from my right ovary. One incision was made over each of my ovaries, another in the middle of my lower abdomen, and the fourth through my belly button.

I was released after overnight observation, prescribed initial bed rest, and then encouraged to make very gentle attempts at sitting up and moving thereafter. The abdominal discomfort can be described as what I would imagine doing 500 sit-ups in one go would feel like, and then suffering from intense muscular pain as a result. I also had secondary pain through the shoulders, sides of my body and chest, which made it hard to breathe deeply. This was caused by prolonged periods of lying in awkward and rounded positions. 

By the second day, I was sitting up in bed and started to bring some very gentle movement and soft stretching into my morning routine to free up my shoulders, chest and the sides of my body, to give my rib-cage more room to accommodate my breath. I also focused on my neck, hips and legs. These stretches are helping my body to stay comfortable, whilst allowing my abdominal area to continue to recover.

Post-laparoscopy yoga sequence 

Each of us is different, our surgery will be unique to us, and how healing progresses in the body will also be individual. Take things slow, be patient and do not attempt these poses or any form of stretching or exercise without consulting your doctor beforehand.


1) Sukhasana / meditation pose

Claria Yoga_meditation pose BW

  • Take a moment to find your seat and centre yourself. If sitting is uncomfortable, kneel with a cushion or bolster under your sitting bones.
  • Ground your sitting bones into the mat or cushion and start to climb up your spine, imagining that you’re stacking your vertebrae one on top of the other, slowly bringing your spine into its natural curvature.
  • Release your shoulders away from your ears and gently bring your shoulder blades a little closer together, broadening across your collar bones.
  • Aim the crown of your head up to the ceiling.


2) Neck stretches

Claria Yoga_neck stretch BW

  • Keeping length in your spine, rest your right hand over the left side of your head, and allow your right ear to move towards your right shoulder.
  • Without pulling or forcing, allow the weight of your hand and gravity to encourage length into the left side of your neck.
  • You can experiment by turning your head so that you’re gazing underneath your right arm.
  • Move your head around a little to find where the tightness sits in your neck, and then pause there.
  • Release both shoulders away from the ears as you do this.
  • Hold for ten breaths and then repeat on the other side.


3) Garudasana / eagle arms (shoulders and shoulder blades)

Claria Yoga_garudasana BW

  • Bring your left arm underneath your right and cross them above the elbows (if this isn’t possible for you, then hug yourself, inching your fingers towards your shoulder blades – release your shoulders away from your ears).
  • Wrap your arms around each other, bringing the palms together, or the backs of the hands together, or aiming the hands towards each other if they don’t reach.
  • Lift your elbows, move your forearms away from your face and release your shoulders away from your ears.
  • This will bring a stretch into your upper back, between the shoulder blades and maybe down your upper arms.
  • Hold for ten breaths and repeat on the other side.


4) Chest opener

Claria Yoga_chest opener BWIf you’re seated with your legs crossed, change the cross of your legs at this stage before you carry on with your sequence.

  • Interlace your fingers behind your back (or hold a belt between your hands if you have very tight shoulders).
  • Release your shoulders away from your ears and bring your shoulder blades together.
  • Start to straighten your arms if this feels comfortable for you, otherwise just focus on bringing your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for five to ten breaths and then slowly release your grip.


5) Upper body release

  • With your arms in a relaxed T position, on an inhalation, open your arms aiming your heart up to the ceiling, gazing upwards if it’s comfortable for your neck.
  • On an exhalation, round your upper back, being mindful not to crunch through your abdomen. Wrap your arms around an imaginary beach ball, separating your shoulder blades, and bring your head and gaze down.
  • Repeat five times, keeping your shoulders away from your ears.


6) Gentle side stretch

Claria Yoga_side stretch BW

  • Press your left palm on the floor, and very mindfully and slowly start to stretch your right arm up towards the ceiling.
  • Be very gentle with this, as you don’t want to overdo the stretch on your right side or compress too much on your left side – be guided by what you’re feeling.
  • The objective is to bring a little length and space into the right side of your body, not go as deeply as you possibly can.
  • Hold for up to three or four breaths and then slowly switch sides.


7) Hamstring stretch (with a belt)

Claria Yoga_hamstring stretch BW

  • Lie on your back and extend your left leg out – flex your left foot.
  • Bring your right knee into your chest and wrap the belt around the ball of your right foot.
  • Keeping your elbows in contact with the floor, slowly begin to extend your right leg.
  • Flex your right foot, keep a micro-bend in the right knee, and gently press your foot against the belt whilst creating opposite force by gently pulling the belt towards you.
  • Hold for ten breaths and change sides.


8) Outer thigh and glute stretch

Claria Yoga_figure four pose BW

  • Bend both knees at a 90-degree angle.
  • Cross your right ankle above your left knee, opening your right knee out to the side.
  • You have the option to stay here and use your right hand to press your right knee away from you.
  • If you want go further, interlace your hands behind your left knee and gently bring the knee towards you – you may be able to use your right elbow to press your right knee away from you.
  • Don’t bring your left knee too far in, so as not to compress your abdomen.
  • Hold for ten breaths and then switch sides.


9) Supta baddha konasana / reclined butterfly pose (inner thigh stretch and lower back release)

Claria Yoga_supta badha konasana 2 BW


  • Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall out to the side.
  • If you feel you would like extra support, place blocks or blankets under your knees.
  • You have the option to do a supported variation of this pose by placing a bolster or rolled up blanket underneath the length of your spine, and raising it using blocks.

Claria Yoga_supta badha konasana BW


10) Supported savasana / relaxation pose

  • Place a bolster or folded blanket underneath your knees.
  • Allow your feet and legs to release and fall out naturally.
  • Release your arms alongside your body, palms facing up.
  • Stay for at least a few minutes or for as long as you feel comfortable.

Surgery takes a tremendous amount out of you. Bear in mind that the simplest action, such as getting yourself a glass of water can take all your energy to achieve. In addition, if like me you’re not used to taking medication, the after-effects of anaesthesia coupled with medication can have an effect on your mood and morale.

So be kind to yourself. Do things mindfully, gently and patiently. And remember that doing less is sometimes more beneficial than overdoing it. Focusing on just one of the poses above might be enough 🙂 

  1. Shelley says:

    Thank you for this Claire. I’ve just had a laparoscopy and wanted some advised gentle stretches to get back into being active post-op and to see what my limits are. So this was perfect!

    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Dear Shelley,
      Thanks for your comment, I’m glad this helped! I hope that your recovery is a smooth one.
      Take care,

  2. Carol rai says:

    I had a similar surgery on March 19th 2020 its been like 12 days..i feel i can do these physically…but mentally …. im a little scared…coz that stinging muscle cram like pain is still fresh…Doc say its fine ..uff..i need to het over my petty fear !!!
    Thanks for the insight will try soon

    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Hi Carol, I understand being scared. I was too. Tiny steps and only when you feel ready. It’s just as important to be ready mentally as it is physically. Take good care and I hope your recovery goes well.

  3. Tess says:

    I just had my diagnostic laparoscopy a day ago, and I wanted something light and easy to do during my upcoming cheerleading practices (since I have to sit out for a while). This looks like a great way to maintain some movement during recovery, thanks so much Claire!

    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Dear Tess, I hope you’ve been recovering well – I see it’s been a couple of weeks. I hope you’re able to get back into your cheerleading practices soon. Take care of yourself! 🙂 x

  4. Jennifer Treacy says:

    Hi Claire, I’m due to go in for my surgery on the 25th of July. I was delighted to come across this post as I was worried as to how long it would take before I could resume my yoga. Thank you.

    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Dear Jennifer, I’m thinking of you and wishing you well for your surgery on 25th July. Be kind to yourself afterwards 🙂 – I found gentle stretches such a help. Take care x

  5. Delaney says:

    Hey Claire, I just had the same surgery a week ago and was pretty active prior. Now most of my body is so stiff and aching from lack of exercise. This was great and my back and neck thank you!

  6. lorna borg says:

    Hello Ms. Claire
    Thank you for these tips. I’m due for a d&c and diagnostic lapa. on the 2nd and this will be spoiling my daily 30 routine including 5 sun salutations and 3 min head stand and seated pelvic twists. When can i resume them? in the mean i shall be doing your suggestions daily.

    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Dear Lorna,
      Thanks for your question. This is very individual and I’m sorry that I can’t provide you with a specific answer. Everybody’s recovery rate is different. Definitely listen to your doctor to start off with in terms of the timeline for starting exercise again. In terms of your daily routine, it depends on your body’s own healing process and also on how you feel in yourself. Your body will be moving into a completely different space whilst it’s undergoing surgery and recovery, and will take the time it needs to get its strength and mobility back. In spending time doing gentle stretches and exploring movement, you will know when the time is right to start your routine again and working your way back up to it bit by bit. I realise that this doesn’t exactly answer your question but I hope this helps somewhat. I wish you the very best for your upcoming surgery and hope that your recovery is smooth. Take care 🙂

    • Teresa says:

      Lorna – How are you progressing? It sounds like we were at similar yoga levels. I see it’s been a month for you. Can you share a status update? I go in for my surgery and would love to gather info on recovery milestones. Thanks for any information.

  7. Janice says:

    I just had gallbladder surgery 2 weeks tomorrow and I am so stiff. I also ha a sciatic problem so I needed to get back into Yoga. Your post plan ion Yoga stretching is perfect. I will ease back into exercise by listening to my body.


    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Hi Jan, I’m so glad you’re able to get back into some gentle movement. I hope your recovery is smooth. Take care of yourself xx

  8. Sharon says:

    Hi Claire … thank you for sharing your post surgery yoga sequence. I read through this a week before my total laproscopic hysterectomy +ovary removal. Now 7 days after surgery, I have been comfortably able to follow your sequence. There’s very little guidance for yogis about taking your first steps back into yoga after abdominal surgery and yours gave me the confidence and courage to get back on my mat, especially your photos with your dressings showing what is possible if your body feels ready. Thank you

    • Claire Ng-Martin says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m so glad you’re doing well after your surgery and that this sequence has helped you. I hope you carry on well with your recovery. Sending you healing wishes xx

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