Exercise and Fitness Guide

5 Ways to Avoid Common Yoga Injuries

Dr. Cindy Haines Feb 7th, 2014 (updated Jun 9th, 2015)
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The practice of yoga is simple and complex all at the same time. When performed correctly and appropriately, yoga poses and physical practices provide great benefits with little risk. But done incorrectly, or before one is ready for any given pose or practice, the benefits may not be as meaningful, and the pose or practice could lead to injury. To maximize the benefits and minimize any risk, here are five ways to avoid common yoga injuries.

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Start low
Start low

One of the most common mistakes is to make the incorrect assumption that yoga is "just stretching" and that any/every pose is appropriate for anyone/everyone right out of the gate. Check out the yoga class offerings available to you and start by selecting one that is suited for beginners.

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Go slow
Go slow

Once you've gotten the lay of the land and see what you're ready for, investigate other class offerings and try those you feel prepared to take. Know that in any class you can modify and choose to do only poses with which you are familiar and comfortable.

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Some like it hot (but some don't)
Some like it hot (but some don't)

Lots of yoga studios offer hot or warm classes. This can mean different things, depending on the studio and the class type. If you have not done yoga before or have never done a hot yoga class, this may not be a good option until you become more familiar with the offerings. Hot classes add a whole new dimension of physical and mental challenge. You may love it - but you may not.

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Become master of your domain
Become master of your domain

You, and only you, know when you are ready to push your edge in yoga. The philosophy of yoga is a gentle exploration and evolution. Know that when ready, there is always more to explore - so no need to rush. Become a master of what you feel comfortable exploring and then (and only then), add more.

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Communicate
Communicate

A big benefit to yoga at a yoga studio is teachers you can talk to! Look for studios with legitimate credentials - are the yoga teachers certified in yoga? Do they have other credentials - personal training, etc.? Let your teacher(s) know where you are in your yoga journey, ask for appropriate modifications and next steps. But always remember: On your yoga journey, YOU are your own best teacher.