How not to get hurt by yoga
So you enrolled in yoga classes. Or maybe, a tv show instructor is doing a good job of teaching you different types of yoga poses.
Everyone is focussed on how to get into a certain yogasana. In the process, the safety part is compromised quite often, while the focus is on achieving that perfect pose or asana.
An extra effort to get into a perfect pose may lead to yoga injury.
Causes of Yoga injuries
- performing yoga in a hurry
- trying to get into a so-called perfect posture
- lack of proper support
- too many repetitions of a pose
- getting wrong/incomplete instructions
- the age factor
To sum up, yoga injuries can result when you push yourself too far and too soon. Some of the most common yoga injuries include pulls or strains in the neck, spine, low back or hamstrings.
Although stats of yoga injuries are 1%, it may increase further as more and more people are now enrolling. it may affect you in two way.
Firstly, if the injury is not serious you will soon return to your normal practices.
Secondly, a serious injury may drive you away from yoga practices for rest of the life. Which is certainly not good for your well being.
Most affected body parts from yoga injuries
The most common yoga-related injuries, found worldwide, include injuries to the lower back, shoulder, neck, wrist or hand, and knee.
A national survey of yoga practitioners of various styles in Australia asserted that 21% of respondents reported experiencing an injury that may have been attributable to their yoga practice, such as minor strains and recurrences of pre-existing injuries.
In an exclusive survey of Ashtanga Vinyasa (involves difficult poses) practitioners, 62% reported having had at least one injury lasting longer than 1 month (e.g., hamstring, knee, and low-back) with some practitioners reporting more than one injury. (As published in International yoga journal)
Milestones of minimizing yoga injuries
So what should we do in order to minimize yoga injuries?
First, the most important step should be not to get discouraged when such situation arises. After all, nothing comes without side effects, however good it be!
But injuries in no way be considered as a side effect of yoga. Yoga has only one side effect, which is an improved lifestyle.
When we incorporate yoga into our life we say goodbye to osteoporosis, high blood pressure, thyroid, irregular blood sugar, heart diseases etc.
Experience healthy and purposeful aging. We become an improved version of ourselves.. more kind, more compassionate, calmer, smarter with increased flexibility. Also an elevated brain for overall well being, all win-win…
Therefore, with so many pros, yoga cannot be missed out of our life. So should we go gently with yoga poses? If yes, then how?
Going gently and hence oversimplifying the yoga poses is not recommended as this will minimize the very benefits yoga offers.
Suppose, if you start to minimize the stretch, twists involved in yoga poses, your muscles groups and related bones will lack the advantage of increased blood circulation hence stopping the abundance of oxygen supply. This oxygen is a key to rejuvenate each cell in our body.
Yoga twists make our core more flexible by providing strength to our spinal cord and the muscles. Spinal cord strength is of utmost importance. As Joseph Pilates famously said, “We are as young as our spinal cord “.
A weak and misaligned spinal cord leads to a bad body posture and an imbalanced body structure. Hence maintaining the mobility of the spine is important to any well-rounded yoga practice and becomes even more important as we get older.
The spine is both structural and energetic center of the body and we need to take great care of it. Since our spine is capable of moving in 5 different directions – forward, backward, sideways, slightly upwards and rotate – a balanced yoga practice is needed in a combination of forwarding bends, backbends, lateral bends, axial extension and twisting.
So what are other options?
A restorative yoga sequence typically involves only five or six poses at a time or in a yoga session, supported by props that ensure you to be completely relaxed and safe.
The restorative poses include light twists, seated forward folds, and gentle backbends. Most restorative practices are based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar.
Props used in restorative yoga:
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These are cushioned supports, having different shapes and sizes. These could be blankets, pillows, blocks stretchable straps or belts and others. We can use these supports for a pose single or in combination, as needed.
Props help you to get into a pose more creatively besides providing a sense of freedom and stability. They have endless uses. Yoga props also seem to help brain simulations if used in playful and creative manners.
Now, as we understand our expectations from yoga, we can train ourselves for the following goals:-
- Maintaining the mobility of the spine
- Strengthening the core
- Developing the ability to balance
- Bringing the joints through the full range of motion
- Flexible enough to play with your kids
- Other functional flexibility
Thus, to summarize and compliment the above-discussed points, we reach to the conclusion that while practicing yoga, we should not overstretch our joints. Knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and waist joints are more prone to yoga injuries.
Stretching the joints beyond the limit may cause micro-tears to the ligaments. Further, wrong actions repeated over a long time may lead to severe injuries.
Hence, to be on the safer side, always start practicing 70% of a posture.This will help to strengthen our body and make it more flexible in addition to avoiding yoga injury.
You must always listen to your body. Always perform at your own pace, strength and flexibility.Two persons may not perform a yoga pose in the same way.
Must read on yoga by anatomy-science of yoga