Yoga is growing – since 2001*, the amount of people who practice yoga has doubled! However, so has the amount of yoga related injuries.
I recently published an article in Granby Living about this after wondering how we can practice and teach yoga safer, and I learned that most yoga related injuries are due to:
- Practicing too long at a time.
- Practicing too much without rest between practices.
- Practicing too hard causing excess strain on specific joints.
- Practicing what is contraindicated for your specific body.
Overall, however, yoga is a safe way to exercise – and the benefits go much farther than the physical, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and so much more. So how can we make the practice safer?
- Get clearance from your doctor before exercising.
- Take classes geared towards beginners so you can learn proper alignment.
- Consult a certified yoga therapist for a customized practice for your specific needs.
- Listen to your body and pay attention to your limits.
- Only stretch 60% of your total flexibility on any given day.
For experienced practitioners, here is a list of the most injured body parts** and some general cues to help prevent injury:
- Wrist: keep aligned with hands. Hands remain flat with fingers star-fished in poses such as down dog, plank, and arm balances.
- Lower back: slightly bend knees throughout entire practice; spread toes out to provide better balance and stability.
- Shoulder, elbows: if shoulders, forearms or elbows feel strained, lay off for a bit! Repetitive stress injuries are common in this area if poses are done too much or incorrectly.
- Knees: never allow a bent knee to go past your foot; your knee should track with your second middle toe in a bend.
- Hamstrings: micro-bend the knees and use blocks to bring the floor closer to you. Again, only stretch about 60% of your flexibility on any given day.
- Neck: never part of the pose, so only do what feels right! NEVER attempt plow or shoulder stand (which compresses the neck) without a certified instructor working 1:1 with you.
Yoga instructors are trained in proper alignment, but in a full class, it’s impossible for one instructor to watch everyone at once and know the specific problems they may have, which is why it is important to find a practice suited for you. Whether you’re new to yoga or healing from a condition or injury, working with a yoga therapist is the best way to make your practice safer.
Beginner or advanced practitioner alike, I offer you this advice in making yoga safer:
Seek out expertise in your mentor. Be mindful. And, listen to your body and mind…your yoga practice depends on it.
Contact Kristal Fiorentino @ 702.523.0274 for a safer, customized yoga practice tailored to your specific needs.