The Path of Ahimsa – How to Avoid Common Yoga Injuries
You might not think that practicing yoga could be susceptible to injuries – but just like any other activity, it’s important to be aware of your physical body and its limitations – and make sure that you don’t exceed your safe limits, especially when trying a more challenging position for the first time.
In fact, in yoga, the notion of non-harming – or ahimsa – is an important part of the practice itself. As one of the yamas or moral principles, it is part of the eight limbs of yoga. Practicing ahimsa means being kind and compassionate towards all things – and that includes yourself!
Read on to find out how to avoid some of the most common injuries in yoga.
Don’t compare your practice with others
You can find examples of other people’s yoga practices wherever you look – all over social media, or at your local studio or gym. And it can be tempting to compare yourself with them – or to try to emulate them.
But remember that each body is different – and you may not know the particular conditions or experiences someone else has gone through, to allow them to carry out a pose.
Focus on your own practice, and notice how it changes. The Track Yoga app has a variety of different levels of abilities, and is a great way of helping you progress as you gain flexibility and strength.
Focus on alignment
Alignment and breath are two extremely important components of the yoga practice, and you should always pay attention to them.
Instead of trying to over-reach to perform the ‘perfect’ pose that you may have seen online, pay attention to the shape and form of your body. Different poses require different alignments, so listen to the cues given that may tell you how your hips, legs and shoulders are meant to be positioned.
As well as alignment, you should also pay attention to your breathing. Never hold your breath in a pose – this will cause your body to become tighter and more restricted. Instead, make sure that you can breathe freely and easily at all times, even if that means easing out of a pose a little.
Don’t over-stretch when hot
As you practice, your body will naturally get warmer – and as it does, it will become more flexible. You might notice how a forward bend feels impossible at the start of a practice- but gets much easier a short while later.
When you’re practicing in a warmer space, heat can have an even greater influence, and you may feel you can go much deeper into a stretch than you might normally do.
While it’s great to enjoy a deeper practice, you are also at greater risk of over-stretching a muscle or tendon more easily here, without realising it. Avoid hyper stretching, especially if it something you know you cannot normally do when it is cooler.
Notice your edge
The “no pain, no gain” mantra might be common, but is one that definitely has no place in yoga.
While your yoga practice can certainly sometimes feel a little uncomfortable, it should never feel painful.
If you feel any kind of pain during a pose, pull back and don’t go into it as deeply. Pain is an indication from your body that something is not right – and by forcing your body to “get through” the pain boundary, you may cause a serious injury which could affect your practice.
That doesn’t mean you might not feel some aches as you practice, or some discomfort from tightness or stiffness. It’s really important to get to know your own body’s sensations and learn to recognise discomfort from pain. With a regular practice, you’ll be able to tell which is which – and avoid injuring yourself.