Eager anticipation is what most of us feel on signing up for the next yoga class. Often, though, excitement can lead to impulsiveness, and injury. Staying safe means you can enjoy yoga for many sessions to come.
Some people are typically more injury prone than the rest of the population, and need a little extra instruction. If you've had muscle injury, muscle strain or sprain, you know that sometimes it can take months to heal. The pain and discomfort never mind the debilitation, can last several months, keeping you from frequenting your favorite class.
Here are 5 tips for preventing unnecessary injury in your yoga practice.
- Listen to your Yoga Instructor's cues Your instructor may give cues such as:- In the equestrian pose (lunge), be sure that the front knee is straight above the ankle. - Lift your knee caps up by contracting the front upper thighs (quadriceps).- Keep the knees directly over the ankles, the hips over the knees, the shoulders over the hips, etc.All cues are given for you to fully experience your body in the pose, to be aware of the normal position of the muscles, and to keep you safe from an injury that could keep you 'out' for months.
- Listen to your body: - Be aware of your muscle strength or weakness when you are working at your edge. Some people like to work at the edge, working towards and expanding the body's limits. Expanding your boundaries takes consistent practice and time. Injuries take much more time, and can cause you to lose much of the strength and flexibility, that you've gained over time. You may as well take your time and get continued, measurable results, then to have your dreams, or your classes come to an abrupt halt indefinitely.
- Clear away anything you may fall on, or against: How romantic... doing yoga by the fireplace, by candle light, in the dark, balancing on one leg. Yes, I've done it. Maybe it's not the best idea. A little more light, a little less brick, moving to a central location where if you do fall you won't set your hair on fire, or break a limb. Having a look, and clearing out your yoga space prior to practice should avoid any unnecessary injury.
- Have NO intoxicants before practicing yoga: Part of the beauty of yoga is being able to feel your body, to notice how it functions, and to experience a true meditation. While performing yoga poses (stretching, strengthening, holding of poses, twisting, balancing and moving in meditation, how easy would it be to lose balance, fall, pull something out of alignment? All of a sudden you are in agony and heading to the hospital emergency ward. Intoxicants are dangerous when performing yoga. Don't do it.
- Practice with a sticky yoga mat: During yoga, depending on the type of class, or how much you overheat, there can be sweating and slippage. It is easy to lose your grip, (hands or feet) on a slippery floor surface. A yoga mat has a non slip surface on top and bottom, so it won't slide on the floor either. Before I started my first yoga class, I thought it might be more economical to buy a bathmat with a non-slip underside.Big mistake! Planting one's face into the floor is the result of slipping, or worse. Buy a good quality sticky yoga mat.
During your yoga practice, it is important to follow your instructor's guidance, to clear your immediate surroundings of clutter, and to tune in to the body's messages.
* Please let the instructor know prior to class, if there are changes to your medical history or, if you have any new injuries, so he/she can continue to keep you safe in practice.
Heather Johnston is a Certified Yoga Instructor, Registered Dental Hygienist and writer based in Cambridge, Ontario Canada. Visit Heather at www.YogaRestores.com.