Yoga Injuries

An article on “yoga injuries on the rise” was published in Time magazine back in the Fall.  I guess the media is still catching onto it because a DC news channel recently ran a story on it.  To the average consumer hearing the story, yoga sounds dangerous.  And I agree yoga can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention to what your body needs and force yourself into a pose.  It can also be hazardous if you take a class from a not so qualified instructor.

With any activity, common sense is required.  Would you go out and run a marathon without training?  And if you did, you’d miserable the entire 26.2 miles and possibly injure yourself.  What happens when you hit the fitness machine at the gym for the first time after being a couch potato for a year?  More than likely, you push too hard the first few minutes and then you start to back off because you realize you’re out of shape.

Now consider yoga.  Do you think you should be able to do every pose the instructor calls out because it’s yoga and yoga is just stretching, right?   Or maybe one time in your life you were a football superstar or slim ballerina and physically you felt you could do anything.  If you take a competitive, type-A approach, you’ll force yourself into something your body is not quite ready to do.  Yoga is about feeling and easing your body into challenging poses, not forcing.  Often, people new to yoga force and this leads to injury.

Now let’s look at how yoga instructors might be to blame.  There are more yoga teachers out there then ever and there are multiple certification programs.  Some yoga instructors take one-day training programs and then the next day they’re teaching yoga.  Unfortunately, this is what happens in most gym environments.  Some people take an advanced training program approved by the Yoga Alliance but then they rarely practice themselves.  To be a yoga teacher you have to have your own practice.  Yoga is about feeling.  A good yoga teacher can’t safely teach and preach yoga asana and philosophy without being aware of how the poses fall within their own bodies.

If you’re interested in yoga don’t let the recent news on “yoga injuries on the rise” or “yoga can be dangerous” scare you away.  Approach your yoga practice with common sense.  Visit your local yoga studio to take classes instead of the gym.  Take classes form multiple teachers.  Ask what type of training/certification the teachers have and how often they practice yoga. 

Most importantly, pay attention to yourself when you’re on your yoga mat.  Listen to the different cues the instructor provides when you’re in a pose.  Try them all but only stick with the ones that feel good in your body.  Listen to your body so you can become aware of good pain that can challenge and exhilarate you vs. bad pain that can injure you.   And, don’t fret if the person next to you can twist into a pretzel.  That’s their practice, not yours.  Your yoga practice is about you.   

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kristi on June 8, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Good points. Yoga is a wonderful addition to life in many ways. Kids, adults, athletes, pregnancy, seniors, people dealing w/ disease or injury, etc. So many things.

    I think the problem is that people are already warned about the problems with untrained personal trainers etc. Since yoga is new to many, people aren’t aware that many YOGA instructors have gone through crash courses. Plus a lot of instructors aren’t trained in yoga injury prevention and recovery.

    I love yoga. Since my yoga injury, I still love yoga and practice with M.D. care and modifications which I have sought on my own. I was an avid outdoor sports individual for 20 yrs prior to yoga.

    It was very difficult to differentiate between the instructional talk in vinyassa yoga class and what my body was saying in the artificial heat. I couldn’t feel the physical pain until I left the classroom. This was different than other forms of exercise I’d done. I’d exercised in heat before. But, this time there was a lot of “confusional push talk” that added a different element. I fell for it. Popular phrases were taken out of context to assist us in getting past “the wall” as if we were runners. We WERE also encouraged to listen to our bodies. It became confusing. Mixed messages.

    I was warned by a personal trainer before trying yoga regarding the way some instructors can push clients.

    There ARE excellent instructors… want to help and answer questions before, during and after class. Then you have the instructors who show up 3 minutes before class and leave 5 minutes after and don’t want you to interrupt the flow of class no matter what seems to be happening with the client.

    Your point is well taken… don’t waist money on badly trained instructors. Stick with those who love to teach YOU! They are out there and deserve to be payed.


  2. Posted by Victory on June 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I love yoga very much. But I have injuries in my knee, wrist, lower back. All of the injuries are in the joints. Now I feel uncomfortable after sitting with my leg cross or stretch my leg. When I press my knee. I feel that a bruise is over there.
    is there any positions that I can practise? I really hope to practise yoga. even there are only one or two position that are suitable for me .
    Great thanks in advance


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