How To Avoid Common Yoga Injuries

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.

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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:

UN World Yoga Day At Bondi Beach

Your June yoga calendar has just become a little more full, with the first annual United Nations World Yoga Day falling on the 21st of this month. Held in Bondi for the first ever event, yogis from all over the country and the world will be heading down to Bondi Beach Pavillion for an all day yoga-filled event.

RELATED: Expand Your Knowledge With Yoga Teaching

The UN World Yoga Day will begin at dawn with Aboriginal acknowledgement and a community gathering of sun salutation as the sun rises over the beach. The event will then run until dusk with yoga classes, meditation sessions, well being workshops and even delicious food and market stalls for all your yoga needs.

Yoga Australia will be part of the celebrations on the day and will also be running events in major cities across the country to support this special occasion in the yoga calendar. Tamara Ogilvie from Yoga Australia can’t wait for the event and told us: “We are excited to be a part of such a special day for the yoga community. The UN World Yoga Day will help open up the conversation about the benefits of yoga practice to mind, body and soul and the positive impact yoga offers to both individuals and society as a whole.”

If you’re not already a yogi, this event would be the perfect time to start, with heaps of support and information on the amazing exercises and benefits that yoga brings to the body. President of Yoga Australia, Claire Nettley knows just how popular yoga is and why that is so. “Thirty million people worldwide practise yoga. Yoga Australia has approximately 2,500 registered teachers and my understanding is that there are approximately 300,000 people practising yoga in Australia,” informs Claire.

“Yoga is a science of the mind. It is a system for establishing mental equilibrium through moral and ethical guidelines, the removal of physical impurities with the goal of establishing a contemplative mind. The primary benefit is a quieter more discriminating mind that allows us to relate better to others, our environment and ourselves,” she continues.

“People will experience more confidence as they feel they can breathe better, giving them more vitality, posture improves – which also makes one feel uplifted and energetic – plus mental focus is improved. The current trend in Yoga is based very much in the physical practice of yoga asana, so people are benefiting from greater physical strength and flexibility.”

If you’re wondering if yoga suits your style, you needn’t worry, as Claire explains the current yoga trends and different styles that you can try. “I think the trend is around different styles of yoga cropping up. Everything from yoga for men (Broga – beer yoga) to hip hop yoga, yoga on paddle boards, yogalates etc,” she says.

“Acro Yoga is very popular now. There is also a groundswell occurring of slow and yin yoga styles (a reaction to the dominance of the hot yoga for some time). At the end of the day, it’s all yoga and encourages people from all walks of life into the practice. If people are mindfully moving and breathing, they’re practicing yoga and that can only be a good thing!”

If that hasn’t already convinced you to start practicing yoga, your sleep, stress management and immunity will thank you for it, as yoga has positive effects on all three of those problem areas. It also improves your flexibility, posture and your physical, mental and emotional health.

The activities on Bondi Beach at the first annual UN World Yoga Day are free, but if you would like to get inside Bondi Beach Pavillion to check out the workshops and classes, you can pre-book your tickets online for $30 or buy a ticket at the door for $50. Be a part of yoga and world history, give your body some yoga benefits and check out this special event at Bondi Beach on June 21st, 2015.

Expand Your Knowledge With Yoga Teaching

Yoga has become one of the most popular exercises in the world. People from many different countries in many different climates practice yoga for many different reasons. It has been recommended for stress relief, weight loss, strength and rehabilitation and is known for the amazing benefits you gain from it.

RELATED: Inhale The Benefits Of Yoga

Those who practice yoga regularly are well aware of this, but if you’re looking to take your yoga even further, maybe becoming a certified yoga teacher had crossed your mind?

There are many reasons to becoming a yoga teacher beyond just wanting to teach. Learning more in depth about the practice of yoga and broadening personal understanding of yoga is one of the top reasons that individuals are enrolling in teaching courses. In fact, Yoga Australia has seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of people registering for teacher training in the past year alone.

When you register to become a teacher of yoga, you learn so much more about the practice, including yoga philosophy and anatomy and meditation. This enables you to then gain a more thorough understanding of what contributes to physical, emotional and mental health. While this is beneficial to those around you – as with your extended knowledge you will be able to help their practice – it’s also extremely beneficial to your own practice and the way you view your own health.

Yoga Australia is recognised as the industry peak body for yoga in Australia and has the highest teaching standards anywhere in the world. The primary mission of the organisation is to: develop and promote best practice for Yoga teaching, to support and represent Australian teachers from all styles and traditions, and to educate and inform the general public and professional community about the benefits of Yoga.

When choosing to train as a yoga teacher, it’s important to register with a governing body, like that of Yoga Australia. Not only do you have more support from a wealth of teachers and knowledge, but you can also feel confident knowing that you will receive the highest level of education and also that your accreditation will be recognised internationally.

Vice president of Yoga Australia and chair of their teacher training committee, Leanne Davis (pictured) has over 28 years of knowledge in yoga teaching and loves to share her advice on becoming a teacher.

yoga australia, yoga teaching, yoga

“During teacher training students will be taught the foundations and anatomy of Yoga poses, philosophy and meditation techniques as well as practical skills such as writing class plans, presenting and getting started in your teaching career. As someone who has been teaching for over 28 years, I realised that learning is an unending process and I am constantly inspired and educated by my peers,” she says.

So, now that you’ve decided that you want to expand your yoga knowledge and training in the teaching aspect, how do you know which course to choose? Let’s take a look at Leanne’s top tips for finding the right teacher program for you:

  • Choose the style of yoga you would like to undertake your training in. There are so many different styles of yoga, which means there are just as many training programs for each, whether it be bikram, vinyasa or Hatha yoga.
  • Ask your favourite yoga teachers about where they received their training. This will help guide you and narrow down the style and potential yoga institutes and schools that you can pick from.
  • Check they are accredited with Yoga Australia. Many yoga studios offer teacher training course, but before you commit to any programs being offered, make sure you check they are accredited. This will ensure that the course is recognised and that you will be doing the correct number of hours to be qualified as a teacher.
  • If you’re interested in formally teaching yoga, it’s vital you register your certificate. This will ensure you are kept up-to-date with the world-class teacher training programs and adhere to the standards recognised across the board.

Images via Yoga Australia

Inhale The Benefits Of Yoga

There’s a predisposed image of what you have to be before trying yoga. As the myth goes, you need to be flexible and thin, be wearing fabulous Victoria’s Secret yoga pants and carrying a green juice.

RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide To Yoga

Well, the green juice and Victoria’s Secret yoga pants are optional, being thin and flexible are not necessary at all, and everyone needs to start somewhere, so why not right now? The two things that is a necessity in yoga class are breathing and an open mind. While you may have to train your brain to be a little more free, your breath is ready for the challenge.

The way you breathe can change your mood and state of mind. Breathing is so important during yoga class because it acts as a sensor to our body and our movements.

Claire Nettley, President of Yoga Australia, believes that breath is the connection between mind and body:

“It’s often said that breathing is the bridge between the mind and body so when we consciously breathe and practise, we’re able to drop into our body and move with awareness, moment to moment. We use the breath as a barometer of how we’re feeling and moving.  For example, if we push ourselves too hard in a pose we may hold our breath. While we may not recognise the limitation physically (or want to mentally), the breath tells us to pull back. It basically helps us to practise in a more conscious way.”

claire nettley, yoga australia, breathing, yoga

Changing the way we breathe during yoga can have great effects on your mind and on your body. It can help to change mood and how we feel. Breathing during yoga is so important because it has many benefits.

“We can achieve many things – how we choose to respond to things, how we behave and how we feel physically. For example, if someone triggers something in us and we’re angry, we might hold our breath and our chest might tighten. But when we consciously tune in, take a deep breath and give ourselves a moment we can respond very differently to how we might have otherwise. Certain pranayama practices can help us relax, perk up or focus. They are many and varied!” Claire says.

But before you go ahead and dive into different breaths during your sun salutation or copy hot the girl on the mat next to you breathes you need to establish what your individual breath is like.

“It really depends on the individual and what you’re trying to achieve. What works for you might not work for me,” says Claire.

“Before we go off and explore lots of wonderful Pranayama practises, it really is important to check in with our regular breath. That starts by watching the breath in any given moment. Do I breathe into my belly or chest? Do I feel tension anywhere when I breathe and if so, where? Is my breath smooth or ragged? Can we watch our breath without judgement or wanting to change anything?  We need to establish a baseline before stepping into other practices or we could create more tension in the body. Without a baseline we won’t know what’s working and what’s not. And again, that will be different for the individual.”

Images via and

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