Managing Injuries in Yoga class

Unless you are a dancer or gymnast we pretty much all start yoga practice stiff, tense and a little mal-coordinated. Yoga practice involves doing often, extreme things with the very same body described above.

The most common reason for starting yoga is back pain.. and the need to de-stress. So, knowing how to manage your injuries, and what role your teacher has in this, in a group class setting is crucial to ensuring yoga is a healing practice for you.

As a yoga-teacher I know that only a fraction of students that are feeling pain or recovering from an injury announce it to me before or at the beginning of class. Whilst it is useful to me as your teacher to know - I completely understand your silence.

There are no health care environments that advocate public doctoring, and certainly not public diagnosing. The reason is obvious: healthcare provision is fostered on experience, trust and respect. You may not know well or know the depth, experience and specialisms of training of your yoga teacher, of which there are inevitably variations.

Privacy is needed for the whole picture to be disclosed, and since yoga is a holistic system – if we are looking to effectively use yoga to heal or support injury or illness, we would never ‘treat’ one symptom alone. As yoga teachers we do not have the medical training to diagnose, and whilst many of us who have specialised in injury prevention and further anatomy training may be keen to assist you, a one to one session is more suited to this.

What you do need to know is how to manage your injuries in a group class and what to do if you experience pain or discomfort in and out of yoga.

In a group class remember the following 5 points:

  1. FEEL GOOD:

Yoga is good for you; don’t be afraid of your body or your practice.

Yoga is low-impact. You are extremely unlikely to injure yourself a yoga class, especially if you are listening to your body. The main issues we encounter in yoga are in the students with excess flexibility over strength, rather than those that are stiff and new to yoga. Yoga related injuries are almost always repetitive strain injuries, and usually related to over stretching, from years of practicing in one style: usually to the shoulders, wrists, hamstrings and SI joint. These are things that can easily be managed by:

a) not ignoring pain in your practice,

b) attending yoga orthopedic workshops for specialist advice,

c) seeking private tuition from an experienced advanced anatomy trained yoga teacher on how to optimize and personalize yoga practice for within a group class setting… especially those with previous injury, conditions or pain.

2. GO UNTIL YOU STOP:

It’s really that simple, go into the pose following your teachers cues until you stop, and then don’t push/force harder. Maintain steady breathing. It is coming regularly and practicing wisely that creates flexibility, not applying force to joints in one almighty wham! Applying force or ‘pushing’ in to joints when they are at their full range leads to injury over time. Equally going all floppy in the yoga pose is not a good idea. Tune in to your teacher’s voice: they will be guiding you through ways of engaging your body mindfully in the pose without needing to push beyond the muscular or bony limitations you experience in your body.