New York Times Magazine recently highlighted the risks involved with yogic
practices. The fact that certain poses are risky, especially when they are done
for many years at increased
flexibility, without regard to your body's limits, cannot be denied.
It cannot be denied that, any type of physical activity aiming to increase
fitness carries with it a certain degree of risk. There is no doubt that
blood pressure, make chemicals that act as antidepressants, even improve
your sex life.
There have been innumerable times when people practicing yoga had to go through
pain and injury. The first reports of yoga injuries appeared decades ago,
published in some of the world’s most respected journals — among them,
Neurology, The British Medical Journal and The Journal of the American Medical
Association. The problems ranged from relatively mild injuries to permanent
disabilities. In one case, a male college student, after more than a year of
doing yoga, decided to intensify his practice. He would sit upright on his heels
in a kneeling position known as vajrasana for hours a day, chanting for world
peace. Soon he was experiencing difficulty walking, running and climbing stairs.
Doctors traced the problem to an unresponsive nerve, a peripheral branch of the
sciatic, which runs from the lower spine through the buttocks and down the legs.
vajrasana deprived the branch that runs below the knee of oxygen, deadening
the nerve. Once the student gave up the pose, he improved rapidly. Clinicians
recorded a number of similar cases and the condition even got its own name:
“yoga foot drop.” To read about more cases like this,
Inverted postures, jumps or any asana that feels strenuous should be
avoided during recovery from injury,
menstruation, or by those with high blood pressure, a hernia, a
heart condition or spinal injury.
Alerts to Avoid Injury
should only be practiced by those who are in good shape, not as part
of a general class or to heal old injuries. Get a green signal from your
medical practitioner or therapist before starting off with yoga. Note that
the original Indian practitioners were used to squatting and sitting
cross-legged on an everyday basis, but now, yoga is the choice of urbanites
who sit in chairs all day, walk hardly and lack of flexibility.
should understand that yoga is not be used as a tool to develop a hot body
but rather to
relax the body and connect with your inner self. Listen to your
body (breathing) and let it guide you from one pose to another. If something
doesn't feel right, ease out of the pose. If something feels like a strain,
you're pushing too hard. If your body feels like it needs a break, relax
back in child's pose. Allow yourself to flow with and yield to gravity. The
natural force of gravity is far more powerful than ourselves, and if we
surrender to it, it will take us deeper into the posture than any of our
efforts using brute force.
poses are risky and need to be carefully monitored and learnt
over time. Timothy McCall, the medical editor of the Yoga Journal, even
calls the basic headstand pose too dangerous to be taught in most yoga
classes. Start with a series of yoga classes targeting beginners, which
introduces you to the basics in a systematic way. Not all studios offer
intro courses for beginners, so look around. Make sure you build a solid
foundation of knowledge of alignment before you try your hand at more
challenging classes like a rigorous Vinyasa flow class or a hot yoga
for the paradigm spot in every pose taking your body into
consideration. That is where you are challenging the body and yourself,
but still staying completely within your comfort zone. Your intelligent
edge is that place in the posture where you are feeling a soothing
stretch and your muscles are working, but there is no pain, strain
or fatigue. Let your breath propel your body into action.
the choice on an experienced yoga teacher keeping in mind approach,
style, experience and training. If you're young and fit, you will be able to
handle a wide range of yoga styles and classes. On the other hand, if you're
a 50+ year old female with super tight hamstrings just starting out, it may
be better to start with individual yoga sessions with an experienced
teacher. The same thing applies if you have any injuries or physical
limitations you're working with. Let your teacher know before the class, and
don't be shy to ask if the class will still be suitable for you. If the
teacher isn't able to offer specific feedback related to your condition,
that's a good indication the teacher might not a good fit for you.
Never push or bully your body to achieve a posture.
Do not imitate any other individual or partner, for no two persons are
same when it comes to physique.
practice barefoot and wear soft, comfortable, non reactive clothing
made of natural fabric to allow your skin to breathe.
yourself with your body parts - in particular your feet, tailbone,
sitting bones, pubic bone, sacrum, back ribs collar bone , shoulder blades,
neck , the crown of your head and the location of the three bandhas. While
practicing yoga pay particular attention to the placement of
as they are the foundation of each posture and the root of your alignment.
hold a posture- each asana is a moving breathing experience, an
exploration to open, release and strengthen your body and mind.
be afraid to use props. Sit up on a block if your hamstrings are tight
or use a strap to help get into a bend if you're not very bendy. If you are
weak not just in your wrists but also in your arms and
shoulders, you may find it helpful to begin with modified versions of
Downward Dog and Plank using a chair. Pick an armless chair with a firm
seat. Put a folded sticky mat over the seat to lightly pad the heels of your
hands. Then place your hands on the seat with the fingers pointing out to
the sides instead of forward and wrap the fingers around the sides of the
seat. Walk your feet back until your body forms a straight line from heel to
hip to shoulder to ear, and you will be in the modified Plank Pose.