Although far less common than sports injuries, serious yoga-related injuries are on the rise. As more Americans have been practicing yoga, writes HealthDay reporter Amy Norton, the rate of yoga injuries has also increased. According to a report by the , between 2001 and 2014, almost 30,000 Americans visited the emergency department from yoga-related sprains, fractures or other injuries.
However, don’t be daunted by that figure – after all, yoga is relatively safe to practice, and many of these injuries were due to overcrowded classes and inadequately trained teachers. Instead of giving up yoga altogether, here is what you can do to avoid yoga injuries:
1. Choose the right classes to attend
Avoid classes that are too advanced for you. If you are a beginner, do not attend classes for intermediate or advanced yogis, just because you think you are flexible or skilled enough. People often overlook the level of classes and dismiss it as a mere suggestion, when they should really be making it a key consideration when choosing a class.
2. Do not go over your threshold
According to Eddie Modestini, co-director and co-owner of Maya Yoga Studio, you can tell if you are exceeding your threshold when you have to use your mouth to breathe. All yoga breathing should be done through the nose. Take a break if you are shaking uncontrollably, or if you experience numbness or pain in any part of your body. Do not overwork your body – flexibility and muscle strength are trained over time, not forced.
3. Practice at least three times a week
Following up from the last tip, your muscles will not change overnight – they need time to become stronger. As such, practicing once a week for one or two hours will not to yield substantial results if your desire is to increase your flexibility and improve physical fitness. Practicing yoga for at least three times a week will help increase your threshold and reduce the risk of injury.
4. Do prep poses
For certain yoga poses, it is highly recommended that you do all the preliminary poses, so that you can ease into the final pose systematically. If you want to practice the Frog Pose, for example, the Yoga Journal advises to practice the Reclining Hero Pose, Camel Pose, Bow Pose, and One-Legged Frog Pose in order, before proceeding to the final, difficult Frog Pose.
5. Distribute your weight
When practicing yoga, one of the most dangerous areas to injure is the neck. In poses such as Headstand, Plough, and Shoulder Stand, many yogis may make the mistake of putting too much stress on the neck. To avoid neck injuries, it is advised to put more weight on your arms, and less on your neck, especially in poses like Camel and Upward Dog.