Although yoga may seem like a peaceful and calm exercise with the aim to heal and nourish the body, injuries still occur. Here are the 4 most common yoga injuries, and some useful tips on how to prevent them.
Hamstring injury and sits bone pain
This type of pain may feel like a dull and stiff sensation in the back of the legs, or a sharp pain where the hamstrings attach to the sitting bones. Since this injury is common among all kinds of practitioners, from beginners to advanced students, it is still unknown from where in the practice this injury is caused, but not unlikely it has something to do with forward folding. Pressing your body into forward folds, and hanging out your hamstrings may be a reason for damage over time, and it is easier than you think to do this, especially when your body becomes more flexible.
Chaturanga: Moving from plank to upward dog is one of the most common transitions done in yoga. Even though this can be a great strengthener for the shoulders and the shoulder girdle, it may also be a devastating exercise for the shoulders and the upper back when done with wrong technique. Too much pressure on the shoulder joint may result in lack of stability in the joint, and thus cause pain. To use a right technique in every pose when you put pressure on your shoulders, double check your hand placement in chaturanga to make sure your shoulders are straight over your wrists. Never let the shoulders raise towards your ears in up dog, this will take the weight from your supporting muscles in the arms, shoulders and neck and put too much pressure in the joint. Also pay attention not to overstretch the shoulders in downward facing dog.
Pain in and around the knees that evolves over time is very common among yoga practitioners. Knee pain may arise from an injury in the meniscus or a torn or overstretched ligament. Knee pain is a severe injury and should always be taken care of. After an injury of the meniscus, the risk of getting arthritis later in life is much higher.
Many yoga poses require a lot of flexibility in the hip joint, if this is not the case, and you still want to fit your body into a certain pose, pressure tends to affect the knee joint in first since this is a much weaker joint than the hip. Be careful with your knees; never allow any sensation in the knees in your practice, any pain in the knee is a sign to back off from the pose causing the pain. Never lock the joints, micro bend the joint and stabilize it by engaging more muscles, this will help build more strength over time.
The neck is a delicate structure, designed to hold up the weight of your head, but not balance on it. Tension in the shoulders, back and upper body have a tendency to manifest as pain in the neck. In poses where you put pressure directly on the neck like shoulder stand or headstand, it is of great importance you build up strength over time before doing the full expression of these poses. Make sure you do these poses with the correct technique; ask a yoga teacher if you are uncertain.
Useful tips to avoid injury
Always be aware of sensations in your body, and know the good sensations from the bad. Sharp burning sensations, as well as, sensations from the joints are signs to back off!
Don’t let your ego get in the way. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body as opposed to comparing it to someone else’s. Don’t push yourself!
Move in and out of poses with control and awareness.
Modify poses if you need to, make the asana fits your body instead of making your body fit the asana. Ask a yoga teacher if you need to find modifications.
One final note: Take a few days to rest and recuperate from the injury. Always seek the advice of a doctor if you continue to have pain. Take your time and rest when needed. There is no destiny to reach!
What many people don’t realize is that blocks can also enhance an asana practice for students of all levels. Every BODY is unique in bone structure, muscularity and proportion. Some people have longer legs and a shorter torso. Others have broad shoulders and long arms. For this reason, no two postures will ever look the same! That said, each pose has a specific intention that is consistent from person to person. Using lateral side bending poses as an example; triangle, side angle, half-moon pose; the goal is not to get your hand on the ground; it is to create length on the sides of your body.
Use a block under your bottom hand to bring the ground up. This supports spinal alignment. When the spine is parallel to the earth, you can effectively roll your front hip under, pull your navel to your spine, and lengthen both sides of the body equally. Next yoga practice grab a couple of blocks and play around, or ask a yoga teacher for guidance. You might find new ways to open up your body and experience your favorite postures differently. Here are just a few poses to show how using a yoga block can be of use.
Back pain is a common complaint among people of all ages. Poor or bad posture (especially, slumping forward), wrong sleeping positions, stress and lifestyle play an important role in backache pain. To alleviate these problems practice yoga regularly for at least 20-30 minutes. Here are 12 yoga poses that will help alleviate backache pain:
There are many different types of yoga, and each type is designed to change and help the body in a variety of ways. When it comes to a yoga practice that focuses on linking breathing techniques and mental concentration, Hatha yoga takes the cake.
When you practice Hatha yoga you are not just benefiting your spiritual and emotional health, you are also finding a spiritual harmony that can easily carry you through even the most stressful situations. But there are many types of yoga out there that will help your physical and mental well-being, what makes Hatha yoga so special?
Hatha is a form of yoga that joins two completely opposite things. The 'Ha' in Hatha yoga relates to the sun and the 'Tha' in Hatha refers to the moon. Even though these two things are complete opposites when you put them together you will find a mind and body purification that is completely unique from any other form of yoga. That's not to say that it is a good or bad thing, but different types of yoga will challenge your body in different ways, and just like with any workout routine you might find that one form of yoga works better for you than another form of yoga.
For many people, when they feel a great sense of stress in the muscles, a sense of increased anxiety, or they are just looking to find emotional peace and a sense of well-being, they will turn to a Hatha yoga routine. In fact, some people even refer to Hatha yoga as a vehicle for their soul because it allows them to be able to connect with their inner spirit more deeply and it allows them to feel more connected with the universe as a whole.
So many of us go through life without having a real sense of who we are. We are constantly looking to 'find ourselves' and we are searching to connect with ourselves more deeply. The mind-body connection is a powerful thing and it is essential that you keep that connection strong if you want to live a fully enriched life.
How do you know when the mind and body are disconnected?
When you are not connected with yourself, you will feel like you are just going through the motions of the day. It will be hard for you to find any real enjoyment out of the things that you once enjoyed and you will feel like you don't get any real pleasure out of anything. Your job will feel like a chore, your relationships might seem unsatisfying, and you may even find it hard to take care of yourself. Not surprisingly when your mind and body are disconnected you are more prone to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Hatha yoga works to connect the mind and the body together more deeply. Not only is the yoga practice itself good for your body and your spirit but when you regularly do Hatha yoga you will find that every part of your life is affected in a positive way. You might find that you start to love a job you once hated, you may start to want to work-out more, or you might even find that you want to try new things that you never thought you would want to try.
The key is hearing that inner voice inside and listening to what it is telling you. And the key to being able to listen to that inner voice is having a strong mind-body connection, the kind of connection that only Hatha yoga can truly give you.
*This article was first published by me for LexiYoga here:
Committing to practicing yoga regularly can be difficult, and attending a yoga class may not always be possible.
Those who establish even a minimal home practice are quick to discover the rewards yoga has to offer. Practicing even just a few asanas (poses) at home on a regular basis, will reinforce what is taught in a yoga class, and best prepare you for class when you’re ready. Students who have a home practice find themselves not only becoming progressively more flexible and strong, but more resilient and calm in the face of life's inevitable ups and downs. As a practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga, I love the self-led class of a Mysore practice within a group environment. But, it is not possible for me to always attend a class, so here are 5 tips that have helped me in my at home yoga practice:
1. Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes every day, if you find this difficult to fit into your schedule, begin by making a commitment to do at least Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) each day. Some days that may be all your time will allows don’t get discouraged, keep going! But on those days when more time is available, extend your time into a longer practice. Allowing yourself the time to do yoga is often a bigger challenge than the yoga itself!
2. Find a place in your home for your practice, and clear the space so you can easily put your mat down when the time arrives. Decide which direction you will face on your mat, and place a candle or make a small alter at the front. Depending on the amount of space you have, you may decide to keep this space sacred and make your dedication to yoga part of your permanent living space. For me, I have created a space uncluttered so that I can be easily convert it to a yoga space when I practice.
3. Note the times of day that are ideal for your home yoga practice. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or maybe it’s after work. Whenever it is, try to commit to practicing at that time and make it a priority.
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing –don’t worry if you don’t have that “picture-perfect” yoga outfit, perhaps you have a comfy pair of sweats or even your pajamas! Wear clothing that’s comfortable for you; you wouldn’t want tight body-hugging outfits coming in the way of doing some wide stretches!
5. Respect your body and do yoga poses gently with a smile. Doing them fast or going beyond what your body can take will not bring faster results. It will only make the practice more difficult and painful. Let go of perfection and fear of failure. The beauty of your home yoga practice is that you listen to your body and find the teacher within.
Remember, distractions happen. Dogs come and lay on your mat, your cat curls up on your lap when you meditate, the kids show up to watch, or your partner decides it is a good time to talk. This is the practice of yoga. It is learning to be present and receive the gifts of your life. It is letting go of expectations and goals, it’s returning to your breath and being mindful of your response to the distractions. This is yoga, this is life. Take a breath and start!
Yoga is a beneficial activity for both physical and mental health. It not only works as a power form of stress relief, but also strengthens your body. By engaging in specific yoga poses, you can target areas of your body that you would like to tone, including your arms. If you have extra flab, you can use yoga as part of a healthy diet and exercise program to shape problem areas and develop stronger arm muscles.
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