We all know that if you practice yoga regularly can get you fit, toned, flexible, it can strengthen your body, calm your mind, and many other great benefits that I can go all they long listing here. But if you don’t practice it correctly and you don’t put enough awareness and be careful enough, you can also injure yourself. According to a recent U.S. Consumer Product Safety Report around 6000 people, a year visit their doctor due to physical yoga practice-related injuries
Why do you need to learn this? Well, it’s very simple. If you want to continue with your daily yoga practice, be there at your own home or in the yoga studio and grow stronger and enjoy all the wonderful benefits which yoga can bestow upon you, without suffering any painful injuries putting your health and safety in danger, then you need to read this article where I will show you what exactly you need to do or NOT to do in order to stay in the safe zone, so to speak.
I have been practicing yoga for more than 10 years now (most of that time in my own home) and I have never, yes I will repeat, NEVER have had suffered any serious injuries. Except for small cervical pinches or similar when (I admit. Some radical honesty here…) in my own stubbornness wanted to stretch too far in an asana, not obeying one of the most important principles in yoga which is ahimsa or nonviolence. If you don’t know, ahimsa is one of the Yamas or don’ts in the 8 limbed path of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.
In this principle you not only need to be non-violent to other people or any living creatures, but you also have to be nonviolent to yourself. Therefore if you push too much into a posture and you experience any kind of pain, you have been violent to yourself. And it’s as much wrong as you are violent to any other living being. So as you can see I only suffered (although a little bit) when I haven’t obeyed one of the principles of yoga and I wasn’t careful enough.
Your yoga teacher’s job is to teach yoga asanas appropriate for each individual skill level, but most importantly your responsibility as a yogi is to keep yourself safe, listening what your body needs, and work within your own limitations. No one can do that work for you. I can tell you about all the stuff you need to do and avoid but ultimately you are who is responsible for your own safety.
The majority of injuries in yoga occur upon shoulders, wrists, hamstrings, lower back, knees, and sacral iliac joints.
So here are some general as well as specific rules you need to remember and follow in your daily yoga practice, which will keep you safe and happy in your yoga journey to eternity.
General Rules To Remember Each Time You Practice the Yoga Asanas
Follow these rules every time you are practicing yoga, no matter your physical ability or how advanced you are, if you want to enjoy a stronger body and a happy mind.
Do not force your body; don’t go beyond your limit. If you find some posture too hard to hold, leave it. Gradually you will develop the strength to hold the posture longer time. Remember, Yoga is not about competing against anyone. Yoga is about improving yourself each and every day. You compete against your own negative qualities. Real success is not about being better than anyone else, it is about being better than you used to be.
Be in the present moment. Focus on the posture. Concentrate. Don’t let your mind wander around. If you are not focused, it will be much easier to injure yourself and on top of that if you are not focused in the asana you are not doing Yoga, even if you are the most flexible person in the world.
Do the Yoga Asanas With a Physical Stability
If you perform the asanas hastily and restlessly, you may injure yourself and the benefits you receive from them will be minimal. You must practice slowly, hold each posture for a time, and above all maintain an attitude of physical relaxation and control. Then you will strengthen your body over time and you will get to enjoy the wonderful benefits of your daily efforts.
Never allow anybody to be there a yoga teacher or not, to push you too much into a pose. And as too much, I mean where you feel any discomfort. If you feel your body resisting ask immediately the person to stop!
Specific areas you need to put your attention on and avoid injuring yourself
1. Lower back pain
This could be a completely separate section because is a very complex and broad topic and I have created a series of videos and free training about yoga for back pain which you can see here: Yoga for back pain, but I will just briefly touch this subject again.
Any yoga practice that involves deep twisting or too aggressive forward bending with straight legs, can put too much stress on the sacral iliac joints and it can also irritate the annular fibers that protect your lower back. Asymmetrical asanas like Parivitta trikonasana (revolved triangle pose) can also aggravate any discomfort or pain you have in your back.
Increase the space between the vertebrae of your back by elongating the spine and the sides of your waist before bending forward and bend your knees until you strengthen your muscles and joints that protect your back. Stretch your back gently and limit yourself until you feel you are ready to go further. In twisting asanas, engage your core and try to initiate your twist from there, relieving your pelvis as much as you can.
If you feel some discomfort or pain in your hamstrings when you do a forward bend, that means you do your forward bends to aggressively or splits before your body is strong and flexible enough and it isn’t ready for to go that far yet.
Simple, if you have pulled a hamstring muscle when you do forward bends, bend your knees so you don’t feel discomfort. Give your hamstring a rest and elevate your legs several times a day. Sarvangasana would do the job.
If you feel your shoulders irritated or some nagging pain in this area, that probably means that you still don’t have stronger enough shoulders, pectorals, or rhomboids and back muscles and you have over-stressed them with too aggressive push-ups and or arm balances in your daily yoga routine.
Rule of a thumb. Practice yoga very carefully strengthening your shoulders over time, until the pain goes away or if it’s too much consults with a physician. Then to strengthen the rhomboids do daily or at least 3 times a week or at least do it whenever you can the asana.