Yoga Injuries

When done correctly, yoga contributes to a stronger, more flexible body, a calmer mind, better athletic performance, sharper concentration and higher quality breathing. But when done wrong, yoga can result in injuries including pulled muscles, aching joints, hernia, or, worst of all, perhaps even permanent disability.

Know your limitations. It’s better to practice a partial pose with good alignment than to push it into a full pose with poor alignment and face the risk of possible injury. Remember: Yoga can be very physically challenging, so you must take care at all times to prevent injuries. Talk to your teachers and even your doctor.

Why Yoga Injuries Occur

Three basic patterns account for most problems. Injuries usually occur when:

  • those not yet strong or flexible enough attempt challenging poses and postures
  • practitioners don’t do a pose correctly
  • practitioners bring an existing physical problem into the yoga classroom and worsen it by pushing beyond their capabilities.

Note: Always advise your yoga teacher if you have any existing physical problems, so you can be provided with modifications or alternatives to prevent further injury.

Types of Yoga Injuries

Some yoga injuries are acute, like a “popped” knee-they happen right then and there. Others are chronic, with microscopic trauma happening over time because of ongoing repetition of poor technique. Make special note of these “common trouble spots” and carry your awareness into class:

Neck: Poses like “plow,” “shoulder stand” and “headstand” can be risky, because if done improperly they can put undue pressure on the neck. Beginners should try these poses only under the close supervision of an experienced teacher.

Wrists: Here’s a great example of knowing your own condition BEFORE you enter the classroom. Do you have carpal tunnel syndrome? Then DON’T perform poses that put excess weight on your wrists.

Knees: Don’t force your knees into Lotus or other vulnerable positions. Without adequate hip-joint flexibility you could tear a meniscus (cartilage) or you could stretch or tear one of the knee ligaments.

Lower Back: Forward and backward bends and twists, if done incorrectly, can result in back damage. Listen carefully to instructions and bend your knees to take pressure off the lower back.

Inversion Poses: Inversion poses like shoulder stand and headstand put the head lower than the heart and raise blood pressure. Refrain from these poses if you have cardiovascular problems, hypertension, diabetes or glaucoma.

Yoga, like any other form of physical exercise, must be done properly. Otherwise, injuries can occur. Beginners MUST perform yoga under the close supervision of expert teachers. And if you have any health questions, ask your doctor! Make the most of yoga. Just do it wisely and prevent yoga injuries along the way!