Yoga is a gentle practice that allows each student to progress at his or her own rate of comfort, but still, injuries can happen. A veteran instructor looks at their causes and how to avoid them.
Jill Abelson of Miami, Florida, had been teaching yoga for over 20 years when she managed to end up in the E.R. after tweaking her neck while easing into a headstand. She suffered another yoga-related injury when an instructor accidentally pinched a nerve in her arm while adjusting her neck. These problems inspired Abelson to investigate the potential dangers of practicing yoga.
Abelson told the Newbury Port Current, “There’s something serious going on in the world of yoga. Injuries are becoming more and more common, and we need to figure out why this is happening.” The certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher pinpointed three major causes.
One is the exploding popularity of yoga, as millions of beginners flood into studios each year. This means that instructors are not as likely to have a personal, one-on-one relationship with their students. Abelson explained, “Historically, yoga was a tradition in which instructors catered to individual students. It was one teacher, one student. It was a much more personal relationship. You got to know the student over time…you got to know their body and their normal range of motion.” Add in the number of newly certified and poorly trained teachers in some studios, and you have a recipe for trouble.
Another factor is the way that the more vigorous types of yoga such as Bikram or power yoga can foster a competitive atmosphere that can encourage students to push themselves too far, resulting in injuries.
What can a student do to avoid being injured while practicing yoga? Abelson suggests choosing a class that’s appropriate for your level of expertise. “People think, ‘Oh, I’m fit and athletic—I don’t need a beginner class,’ but in the big, mixed level classes, you’re not going to get the individualized attention you need.” She also recommends that students begin with the basics, listen to your body and don’t try to compete with others around you.
To get the most out of yoga without risking injury, choose a studio with experienced instructors, like Pura Vida Urban Fitness. Here you can be sure of getting the personalized attention you need to safely practice yoga and progress at your own pace.