In the recently published special edition of Time magazine, an article reported that over the past three years, 13,000 Americans have been treated in an emergency room or doctor’s office for yoga-related injuries. Some suspect that 13,000 or maybe even more have been injured in yoga classes. More and more people are trying yoga and more and more yoga-related injuries are taking place. It is crucial to your health and well-being that you realize that any exercise or practice performed incorrectly can and will possibly lead to injury.
How can you stay and healthy safe in yoga?
By following the following these logical guidelines, you can reap all the benefits of yoga and stay safe in your practice.
1. If you have not exercised for a long time, do not expect that you will be able to do what you were able to do 20 or 30 years ago. Yoga is a progressive practice and doing a little less is truly more. If you do a little less than what you can achieve, you will stay safe and you will progress comfortably with a regular practice.
2. Get quality instructions. It may be a good idea to find a private yoga teacher if you are new to yoga. Find an experienced and educated yoga teacher who will work with your body and your personal needs one on one before entering a great class where you will not receive the attention you need. You can find a qualified registered yoga teacher who has met the minimum requirements established by the National Yoga Alliance.
3. Be open and honest with your yoga teacher. Let your yoga teacher know the old or new injuries you have experienced. Ask the teacher if they physically touch and adjust their students. If they do, ask them if they can do their best to refrain, but rather give you verbal adjustments and let you know when you have it right. Verbal adjustments will allow you to feel and think it out yourself as well as work on your listening and focus skills and giving you freedom and independency from your teacher.
4. Take responsibility for your body, especially for really mobile parts. In each pose, cultivate the practice of scanning your joints from head to toe. There are many injuries to the shoulder caused by an incorrect and regular yoga practice. This is probably due to incorrectly doing downward dog and plank pose. In downward dog, externally rotate your shoulders. You can externally rotate your shoulders by turning the crease of your elbows toward your thumb. In plank pose, relax your shoulder blades (scapula) by pressing the head of your shoulders towards your heels. If you have hyper extended elbows or knees, you must adjust for those in a different way, so be sure to tell your teacher these slight deviations from the norm.
5. Some poses are not for everybody. If a pose causes you pain, immediately change it and modify it in a way that intuitively feels more comfortably or stop doing it all together. You should feel free to sit out poses that do not suit you and change the dynamics and biomechanics of a pose to meet the needs of your body. There are hundreds of poses and every pose is not just for all bodies.
7. Consider taking a workshop or yoga teacher training course. Even if you do not intend to teach yoga, a yoga teacher training course or a yoga workshop can increase your knowledge and understanding of yoga and this will help you stay safe in your own practice.