Yoga is all about the health of your mind, body and spirit and it has gained popularity all over the world. As a gentle exercise with a long list of health benefits, yoga is often advertised by celebrities on Instagram, suggested by health professionals and encouraged among communities as a way of healing the body and promoting wellness.
However, yoga does come with a stigma of being only for those with flexible genes and not an exercise that mere mortals should try. While this is far from the truth and you don’t have to be naturally bendy to try yoga, like any fitness activity, yoga does pose some risks if the positions and practice are not being done correctly.
Claire Nettley, president of Yoga Australia, is passionate about individuals trying out yoga for themselves. Part of Yoga Australia’s mission is to develop and promote the best practice for yoga, which means having registered teachers who know how to teach positions correctly.
“In recent years, yoga has become increasingly popular due to the number of health benefits it provides to not just the body but the mind and spirit also,” says Claire. “Whether you have tried it or not, most people would have a fair idea of what yoga entails, however there a few thing you need to take into consideration before you start. Yoga, like any form of exercise that challenges your body does have some degree of risk if not performed correctly.”
Common yoga injuries can range from issues in the lower back, such as disc problems, strained hamstrings and knee and neck complaints. With that being said, Claire knows how important it is for you to stay injury free during your practice and so has put together some tips about avoiding common injuries associated with yoga.
Finding the right yoga instructor
Whether you are a first timer or an expert in Yoga, your first point of call is finding an instructor who has formal training and is a registered yoga instructor. This seems like common sense, yes? But believe it or not, a recent study has shown that 68 per cent of yoga students who were surveyed never asked their instructor about their qualifications – despite knowing it was important.
Why is it important?
You might be asking how your choice of instructor can prevent injury. It’s quite simple really – a qualified yoga instructor understands how to teach a posture correctly and can correctly recognise when a particular posture or movement is not suitable for certain people. Remember everyone has their own limits and some movements may be easier for others.
Finding the right yoga style for you
There are a number of yoga styles which involve various levels of difficulty. These styles range from gentle, easy stretches such as Hatha yoga, to more advanced movements such as those in Ashtanga yoga. It is important to start with a style that is not too challenging for you. Starting with beginner classes is a good way to understand the basic fundamentals of yoga without putting too much pressure on the body.
Know your body
Yoga can help release any tension you may already have, but if you do have injuries prior to taking up yoga, it is important to be aware of these injuries and inform your teacher before your first class. Push yourself to try new things, but within reason. Know what your body is capable of.
If you are thinking of taking up yoga, make sure you do it right. If you are unsure of what’s best for you or are looking for a registered teacher in your area, visit: www.yogaaustralia.org.au.