Perhaps due to the increasingly stressful lifestyle of many Americans, yoga has become an increasingly popular way to release stress and strengthen the body. Studies have demonstrated yoga’s many benefits, including increased flexibility, better posture, improved breathing, reduced stress and improved heart health. But as with any form of physical activity, there is a risk of injury involved in yoga practice.
Research shows that in 2010, there were 7,369 injuries related to yoga, some of them serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. The most common injuries caused by yoga are repetitive strain and overstretching of the neck, shoulders, spine, legs and knees.
By taking the following precautions, you can practice yoga without fear of injury.
- Inform your doctor: Before you begin any exercise regimen, it’s crucial to speak with your doctor to address any previous injuries or medical conditions. Your doctor will be able to recommend any specific precautions you may need to take.
- Work with a professional: Learning correct form is important when you are new to yoga. Make sure the yoga instructor you work with is experienced and credentialed.
- Do your research: Wearing the right type of clothing (comfortable and close-fitting) and properly warming up is essential to a healthy yoga practice. As a beginner, you should start off slowly and focus on the simple things, such as your breathing, before you work to increase your flexibility.
- Listen to your body: It’s especially important to know your limits when you begin your yoga practice. If you begin to feel pain at any point in a pose, you should take a break. If your pain doesn’t go away, you should see your doctor.
- Stay hydrated: It is also important to hydrate regularly throughout your yoga session, especially if you are taking a hot yoga or Bikram yoga class.
Yoga is an excellent way to minimize your daily stress and increase your physical fitness, but you should be prepared before you begin taking yoga classes. Discussing your plans with a doctor and finding a licensed yoga instructor to learn from are great first steps in your yoga journey.