Yoga and injuries

“Ashtanga has been developed for 12 year old boys.” Well, of course that’s an exaggeration, but a strong image one of my teachers once used to describe why so many yogis are struggling with certain postures that are required if you want to follow this path.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Ashtanga, the dynamics, the discipline, the sweat, the exhilarating feeling it gives me. I never suffered any injuries related to this practice. However, I find it worrying that yoga related injuries are increasingly reported by doctors, and many of them result from the practice of Ashtanga or other dynamic forms of yoga.

The result of hard work - and patience

Yoga has the reputation of being calm, relaxing and gentle. Yoga is supposed to be good for you. Couple this approach an inexperienced student might have with an overly eager instructor and the damage is done. Most athletes are aware that their sport bears the risk of injury. But truth is: Yoga can hurt too. Injured hands and wrists, twisted knees, injured backs from back bends – the list is long (and yes, it’s happened: people falling over in crow pose, breaking their nose).

Particularly in fast flowing classes, precision is often lost – there’s just not much time to explain and to insist on alignment and the correct postures. Many students who are normally quite sporty but who are new to yoga opt for difficult classes and many teachers, not wanting to drive students away, fail to point this out to them. There’s the possibility of injuries here which in turn put yoga in a bad light.

Yoga needs to be practised with awareness, bearing in mind the principle of ahminsa, or non-injury. It’s important to treat our bodies in a gently way even though we might find them overweight or terribly stiff. Are yogis who choose to approach yoga as a system that reaches beyond the mat are less likely to suffer injuries? Has yoga in the West simply become “fitness” or “work out”, with all the negatives, such as injuries, that come with that label?

Unfortunately, what I read here makes me think so: YogaWorks has partnered with the National Academy of Sport Medicine to offer an accredited yoga programme specifically designed for personal trainers. Make me sweat, baby!…

Categories: Controversial, Yoga

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