Do You Need a Body to Do Yoga?

From the confines of a hospital bed, what options do you have to move around? Wires, tubes, sheets, and monitors all conspire to keep the body still and safe, but the inactivity can be agonizing. Many of us take our freedom of motion for granted, and the painful lack only hits home when we are seriously ill or injured and unable to move.

Artist Yuko Kodama found herself in this predicament when she learned she had a rare and aggressive form of cancer in her mouth. The latest episode of The Chopra Well show Urban Yogis features Yuko’s story and the role yoga played in her recovery. A yogini for over 16 years, Yuko lay in her hospital bed, desperate to move and stretch her body. In an amazing moment of inspiration, Yuko closed her eyes and began doing her Ashtanga yoga practice in her head. “This is great – I don’t even need a body to do yoga!”

In addition to her other treatments, this imagined yoga practice helped Yuko develop the strength and confidence needed to fight her illness. Back to her paintings, her family, and her regular Ashtanga practice now, Yuko is almost in full remission from the cancer. She credits her yoga practice for why she’s alive today!

Yoga is certainly a physical practice and can be a great way to work on strength and flexibility. But many seasoned yogis and instructors will tell you that breathing and mindfulness are at the heart of the practice. You can deepen your breath, quiet your thoughts, and imagine a vinyasa sequence in your mind’s eye, and the effect might be quite similar to if you were sweating it out on the mat.

So next time you’re sick in bed, cramped in a tiny airplane seat, or feeling antsy on the subway, try Yuko’s method. You may feel stuck and anxious to move, but with a healthy imagination, there is no limit to what you can do.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Russell Brand on yoga and overcoming addiction.

More from Intent:
Teenage Yogis: Fostering Peace in the Face of Rising Violence
How Your Body Language Can Change Your Life
Seane Corn and Deepak Chopra Talk God, Yoga and Service

By The Chopra Well


Mac C.
mac C6 years ago

Great post to share--- really enjoyed it. Thank you.

Kathy K.
Kathy K6 years ago

What an amazing story. Thanks for posting.

Marianne B.
Marianne B6 years ago

A wonderful and inspiring article. thanks for sharing

Roni Jo Patterson

Does one need a body to do yoga? Gee, I don't know, you may want to contact a spirit/ghost and ask them.

Talya Honor
Talya H6 years ago

Thanks for the share!

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon6 years ago

Weird headline. A person with restricted range of motion, or no ability to move at all, is still a living human being and alive inside a body.

Veronique L.
Veronique L6 years ago

Interesting, thank you!!

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S6 years ago

interesting. Thanks.

Gloria picchetti
Gloria picchetti6 years ago

Interesting idea.