So, you finally downloaded the Mindbody App & registered for your first yoga class. You’re thinking yes, I can see the teacher demo, but why is she smiling? This shit hurts!
What she calls basic Asanas are strange to your body. “No, I’m not feeling that hamstring release in downward dog & I can’t even distribute my weight equally”. ‘My spine is not moving an inch forward in Paschimottanasana (forward fold)”. “My body feels tight & my spirit is defeated”.
Personally, I can vividly remember my first attempts at Chaturanga Dandasana (yogi push up). One word: OUCH.. It was the first time that I realised that I have a problem (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). Thank you PhD & thank you genetics! My mom ended up having a surgery in her 50s to relieve her symptoms.
That got me thinking:
1) Does yoga improve or worsen existing body misalignments?
2) What are the best things I can do to minimise & manage injuries?
Digging for answers I stumbled over a great podcast: Yogaland & was introduced to Jason Crandell. Jason has +20 years’ experience in yoga & often collaborates with physical therapists, orthopedics, traumatologist and sports medicine professionals to offer the most up-to-date information & teaching resources.
The Big Picture
Overall, yoga is considered a low-risk practice. Yoga-related injuries occur, but they don’t occur frequently. The 2 most common mechanisms of injury in yoga are repetitive stress and overstretch.
Skilful alignment can help distribute stresses & minimize disruption BUT if you do the right pose, the right way too many times, too intensely, too long, & you don’t do the opposite poses you might be on the road to repetitive stress injury.
Also, don’t focus on doing advanced poses right away. Yoga is for everybody, yet NOT all yoga poses are for everybody, & NOT all yoga poses are for everybody at this phase in their life.
Doing too much of the same thing for too long, often without enough of the opposite action.
The repetitive stress injuries are often in the: Anterior Shoulder, SI Joint, Hamstring Attachments, Anterior Hip, Lower Back & Medial Knee.
· Diversify your sequence.
· Use techniques to develop both mobility & stability.
· Monitor the degree of intensity & the duration you spend in a given pose
· Monitor repetitions
· Use skilful alignment
Going too far, sometime too quick, and a strain or sprint occurs.
· Use a moderate base (particularly in vinyasa classes)
· Develop greater strength in the affected region
· Reduce long-held passive stretching (engage your muscles when you are nearing your end range of motion)
Aggravation of existing injury
It’s not particularly a new injury caused by yoga but in my case when I started practicing, I was drawn towards vinyasa classes, those with 103846 Chaturangas :) so ofc my wrist pain was triggered. The fact that ignored wrist stretching and warming up my joints also added to the problem.
· Decrease the intensity & duration of posture
· Increase the support by using props
· Listen to your symptoms & your doctors
“Pain is the body’s way of asking us to make a different choice.” Donna Farhi
The guru or teacher-knows-best model for teaching is fundamentally flawed. Scientifically speaking there is NO person who is connected to the proprioceptive matrix of your body. No one, no matter how experienced, is capable of knowing how far you should go or how long you should stay. Trust yourself & learn from your injuries.
Your ego will trick you! Pay attention, ask yourself:
What I’m I trying to proof by doing that handstand? To get likes on the GRAM? To win favour and praise from your my teacher?
& remember AHIMSA first..