How to Help Prevent Yoga Injuries
4 Top Tips
Yoga, so gentle. Guess again. Yoga injuries have risen just as fast as its popularity over the past few decades; with unspoken expectations to immediately do movements that can take years of practice to feel safe. What are ways we can prepare ourselves for yoga, and ultimately prevent injury? One answer: Cross training.
1.Pilates: There’s a reason people blend yoga with pilates. Yoga can be incredibly demanding on the core and joints. Pilates offers movements needed to strengthen these areas; abdominals, back, hips and chest. Pilates describes the “core” as the area between the shoulders and knees. It has precise, effective movements that give people a base of strength, and targets the smaller, neglected stabilizing muscles. You can work your delts and lats all day, but if you don’t work the muscles around the rotator cuff or get the gluteus medius firing, you’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
- Strength Training: With the surge of “at home” workouts rising in the pandemic, the accessibility of strength training has increased. There’s a growing understanding that weight lifting has its place, but bodyweight work can also be incredibly effective. By building strength and endurance you will come to yoga better prepared. A program that has broadened the understanding of what “strength” looks and feels like, integrates body weight, resistance training, yoga and weight lifting is mindfulstrength.ca
3.Train Vulnerable Places: Example: wrists! We walk on our feet all day, come to yoga and ask our hands to carry our entire body weight!? So rude! It’s essential to gradually build up the wrists. Look for teachers that integrate wrist work at the start of practice. A great resource is movementmethod.com. They have classes for wrist strength, among many creative, comprehensive, anatomically inspired classes.
4.Listen to your body: This is so important. Yoga builds a relationship between the body and mind. This entails trusting the body to know what it needs. When we listen to inner cues, the bridge of trust between mind and body is reinforced. A phrase I like to share in class, “Our body often knows things before we do, it’s our job to listen”. Hear it when it says ‘enough!’. Decipher what is ‘safe discomfort ‘ and ‘dangerous pain’. If you’re curious to learn more, listen to episode 158 Greg Lehman: Explaining Pain Research, Biomechanics, and Strength on the “Mindful Strength Podcast”.
These tips are meant for active styles of yoga. Trying restorative or yin is also a great place to start. Even so, yin can be challenging. It asks us to hold deep, intense stretches. Take classes with well-educated teachers who can offer helpful modifications. Remember, trust yourself to know what you need. When the body talks, LISTEN.
Jelayna Da Silva is a well-certified, passionate yoga teacher, currently offering public and private classes online to practitioners from all walks of life. www.jelaynayoga.com