Yoga offers a wide range of physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. The practice is relatively safe, but injuries can occur. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent injury and continue to enjoy your practice.
Learn and practice proper alignment in the poses. Often, people sustain injury because the body is not aligned properly. In many poses, you learn to “stack” the joints with the ankle positioned under the knee and the elbows and hands under the shoulder. This prevents pressure on the joints and pain.
Understand and listen to your body. You need to understand your limitations, level of fitness and health conditions that may limit your practice. You may need to make modifications to some poses or substitute another asana with similar benefits for poses you find difficult or not possible.
One of the ways yoga is unique from most other types of physical activity is the non competitive nature of the practice. Competition can result in injury, whether at the gym, on the playing field or on the mat. Avoid all types of competition. Don’t compete with other students in your class or even with yourself. Don’t push too hard and end up hurt because you were trying to work above your own comfort level.
Although there are several strategies for preventing injuries, one of the most important injury prevention tools is your yoga teacher. A qualified and experienced yoga teacher has taken extensive training and can guide you through your practice. As an added bonus, a well trained yoga teacher can suggest modifications or alternate poses to fit the specific needs of each student.
If you want to try yoga, but worry about injury, starting with a professional yoga instructor is the best way to learn. Starting off at home with a DVD can result in improper alignment in poses, which can result in joint and muscle pain throughout the body.