Yoga is widely celebrated for its ability to bring peace of mind and alleviate various physical and stress-related conditions. In general, yoga lengthens the body tissues, strengthens the muscles through applying healthy stress and enhances the range of motion of the skeleton.
However, sometimes injuries can occur in yoga practice as well. It goes without saying that following the instructions of a qualified yoga teacher is fundamental here. Students, though, share a responsibility in sticking to a safe practice and be intentional in preventing injuries. Areas such as shoulders, wrists, hamstrings, lower back, knees, and sacroiliac joints often bear the brunt of strain during yoga practice, so the first step to keep safe is always to listen to your body’s needs and respect its limitations. Anyone who has ever attended any of my classes knows that this is one of my favourite mantras…! 😉
Beyond this general but absolutely fundamental piece of advice, let’s see what else we can do to prevent injuries while practising our favourite yoga routine.
Choosing the Right Class and Instructor
Do your research and try to find a well-established yoga studio in your area. If you can, go and visit them in person. Have a look around (if you can only practice via Livestream, call the studio beforehand) and ask what classes could align with your ability and needs. No matter how experienced you are, any knowledgeable yoga teacher will prioritise your safety and provide appropriate modifications and adjustments.
Respecting Your Own Uniqueness
Yoga is a practice that encourages self-reflection. Each one of us is unique, and what works for others may not work for you. Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during poses and honour your body’s shape and signals. Embracing this mindful approach will allow you to progress safely and effectively.
Leaving Your Ego Outside
Yoga is a journey of growth and self-improvement. Rushing into advanced poses without proper preparation can lead to injuries. Try instead to focus on building strength and flexibility gradually, respecting your body’s natural progression. This slow, mindful approach allows your body to adapt, minimising the risk of strain and injury.
Learning Proper Alignment and Technique
Aligning your body correctly not only enhances the benefits of each pose but also protects vulnerable areas from undue stress. Always try to pay attention to alignment cues provided by your instructor and seek their guidance when needed. Engaging your core, maintaining a neutral spine, and distributing weight evenly are also key components of safe and effective yoga practice.
Practising Mindful Self-Care
Self-care is an essential aspect of any yoga practice. If you can, try to cultivate a positive mindset, approach your practice with joy and gratitude, and embrace self-compassion. Sometimes can be difficult to release the need for comparison and competition, but focusing on nurturing your overall well-being in the long term is a much worthier use of your mental (and physical) resources. Remember that yoga is not solely about physical achievements but also about finding balance, peace, and harmony within yourself.
Sticking Around For Savasana
You may be tempted to quickly head for the door as soon as the instructor calls for Savasana (Corpse Pose), the final resting pose of a yoga flow. Try to resist the urge to jump right back into your daily activities straight after practice. Savasana allows your nervous system to slow down and brings closure to the practice. Even just 2 or 3 minutes can have a wonderful effect on your body and spirit.