How to protect yourself from a yoga injury

How to protect yourself from a yoga injury

How to protect yourself from a yoga injury 

You might think that because your usual yoga practice doesn’t involve a lot of high-impact jumping or lifting heavy weights that you’re safe from injury. But, believe it or not, it is possible to injure yourself while doing yoga. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to stay safe and prevent yoga injury.

Choose the right class

Before starting any new yoga class or program, first read the class description and if possible talk to the instructor. Or, if it’s a home program watch it through first without participating.  This will test your familiarity with the poses and the level of the practice. If you’re new to yoga or still learning the ropes, give the advanced classes a miss. Find a program that suits your level.

Warm up

Like any other exercise or sporting activity, you should first warm up your muscles before launching into the practice. Again, you might think that because yoga is not high-impact, you can forgo the warm up. Think again. Try to arrive to your mat early and take a few minutes to center yourself.  Start with some gentle stretching. Your body will thank you for it.

Leave your ego at home

One of the worst things you can do during your yoga class is worry what everyone else is doing. Do your body a favour, ignore your ego and learn how not to be competitive in yoga. When you focus on other participants and try to compete, pushing yourself too hard into poses, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury. Focus on yourself and your own practice. Listen to your body’s cues – if it hurts, stop or ease off the pose.

Breathe

As much as you should listen to your body’s cues, you should also pay attention to your breathing. Throughout your practice, your breath should be long and rhythmic. Not short, shallow and erratic. If you’re in a pose and struggling to breathe, you’ve gone too far into it and could end up hurting yourself. Again, ease off.

Keep it frequent

While your regular Monday night yoga class is better than nothing at all, ideally you should be practising a few times a week. The consistency and frequency improve your flexibility and stamina.  It will also help you build stronger, longer muscles. And stronger muscles mean you will have the muscular stability to support your body through the various asanas.

Modify where needed

Related to leaving your ego at home is knowing when to modify your practice and not be too proud to do so. If, for example, you know that you have overly tight hamstrings or you’re on the comeback from knee surgery, then modify. Your instructor should be able to advise you on modifications or alternatives to the pose that will keep you from injuring yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to use props – they are your friends in practice, not your enemy!

By practising some self-awareness and seeking advice when needed, you can prevent yoga injuries and enjoy a more fulfilling practice. Remember yoga is a journey, not a race. Don’t be in a hurry! Savour the journey and you are sure to stay injury-free.

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