How Can We Prevent Yoga Injuries?

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.