How to Avoid Yoga Injuries
A growing number of Americans are getting injured doing yoga. Like any form of physical activity, yoga practice carries risks—especially for people who push themselves or are pushed by teachers to “achieve” a particular pose. In a radio interview with Heidi Godman on WSLR, Sarasota, FL’s Community Talk Radio, Lynn Burgess talks about how to avoid yoga injuries.
Heidi: I’ve heard you say that in your yoga practice you have to take risks. But I’m wondering how does a student learn to take risks to a new place or master a difficult yoga pose while avoiding yoga injuries?
Lynn: I think it’s about learning to take calculated risks. Asking the teacher for instructions and clarification before, during or after the class, getting a book to read more about what you want to learn, watching YouTube videos or talking to other people who can do a pose or who have been practicing longer than you have.
Heidi: Do people tend to push too far, too fast when they first come to yoga?
Lynn: Absolutely! We tend to think of yoga as a physical practice but there very mental aspects to yoga, like observation, that we want to foster.
Heidi: Observation? What do you mean?!
Lynn: Observation is learning to notice when you are clenching your jaw, holding your breath, straining your eyes, breathing too hard. These are all body cues that tell you are working too hard – over-efforting.
Heidi: Do people tend to be aggressive? To “go for it” when they first start?
Lynn: Yes! Yoga is a practice. The foundation for getting into advanced, sexy-looking yoga poses that gloss the pages of popular magazines arises from learning, practicing, and honoring the basics.
Heidi: So you’re saying that yoga is really about little steps at a time.
Lynn: Yes, and understanding that yoga is really like a meditation in movement, not a competitive sport.
Heidi: I can see where not getting to a yoga pose quickly can dampen someone’s motivation. As a teacher, how do you encourage people and hold them back from hurting themselves?
Lynn: By providing clear instruction, explaining logical progressions and continually asking them to cultivate an attitude of curiosity rather than ambition.
Heidi: Ok, so let’s say that someone is curious and patient and still gets injured. What should they do then? Do they stop their yoga practice?
Lynn: There are many way to deal with injuries – depending on the place and severity of the injury.
Heidi: What about returning to yoga once you are feeling better?
Lynn: It can be tricky and people are often unsure of when to come back to yoga after an injury. You have to listen to your body and ask the advice of your teacher.
Heidi: So wade back in to your yoga practice? Don’t just jump back into the deep end?!
Lynn: Yes! Yoga is a practice of a lifetime. While it’s cliché, the joy really is in the journey.