Well, we know that yoga can help you recover more quickly from most injuries because it improves blood flow and warms up your muscles. But what can heal can also harm if it’s done incorrectly. This reality has been writ large in headlines proclaiming all of the injuries which can result from practicing yoga and often with a dire warning aimed towards those who use alternative medicine instead of the ‘tried and true’ (ie, drugs) or at least those who use it incorrectly or expect too much from it.
Anything can be just as harmful as good if it’s abused—take caffeine and alcohol for example. Any physical activity can result in injury, especially if we’re not practicing mindfully. It’s true: yogis are sometimes injured (usually muscle tears, strains and sometimes fractures) In order to avoid such injuries, you have to play it smart.
How can something that should be helping you be harmful? Our western attitude of more is always better certainly doesn’t help. Nor does our tendency to compare ourselves to others is class, to turn yoga into a sport, into a competition, to want to do elaborate poses held for a long period of time before you’re ready. This sort of mentality may lead to injury and could be the reason why novices generally get injured more than experienced yoga students (though even highly skilled yoga students may overdo it to their chagrin.) It is important not to take your time in yoga. Poses sometimes come very slowly. What’s important is that you come to class, ready to learn, not that you execute each pose perfectly.
Yoga is not a race or a competition. Everyone can progress at their own rate and there is no end goal. Instead of trying to do more and more, harder and harder, take the time out to listen to your body, only do as much as you can, and slowly work towards those convoluted and difficult poses. Make sure you work with a qualified instructor whom you trust.
Pain and injuries can happen even in yoga and particularly if you lose sight of what yoga is all about. It’s a practice, not a performance.
Photo By: Foxtongue