Avoid injury, practice mindfully.
Do a google search for “yoga injuries” and the findings are numerous. Yoga is like anything that’s physical, it exposes us. The second you step onto a sidewalk you run the risk of tripping or missing the curb, but that doesn’t keep you from going for a walk.
The difference with yoga is we think of it as healing. And it is! Powerfully so. But, we trust this idea so much that we often show up to our mat brain off. We minimally question what we’re doing and often fail to ask ourselves how appropriate it is for us individually. We think if the teacher is telling us to do it and the rest of class is then, just do it. A little food for thought on that matter from a yoga guru...
You don’t have to be an anatomy/physiology expert to be discerning in your practice. Your body, if you listen, will send you signals. Sometimes they are subtle, sometimes they are obvious. And even if you consider yourself to be a discerning yogi there is always a divergent moment in a class when you must choose between what your ego wants and what actually works for you.
Yes, accidental injuries do just happen. In an instant, our circumstances can take an unexpected turn for the worst. This is possible in yoga, but rare. Most yoga injuries are a result of ignoring those above said signals, pushing ourselves a little harder and flirting with competition (which isn't the practice of yoga any longer).
The core of yoga is mindfulness— a buzzword we’re all familiar with. Practicing yoga [mindfully] means we’re willing to be completely honest with ourselves about “where we are”. We cut through the noise of our image and expectations. As a result, we can hear our own needs more clearly and we have no hang-ups about honoring them.
When we approach yoga with this deep self-awareness, it is a healing practice. We’re able to work with our limitations, to challenge them with respect and to eventually loosen the grip they have on us; inching our way toward more physical and mental freedom. So the next time you’re on your mat tune-in instead of tuning-out.
Tips for practicing mindfully to stay injury free in yoga:
Don’t skip the beginner class— take the time to build a foundation and save yourself grief down the road.
Find a teacher you trust— invite feedback and use them as a resource to learn modifications for when something isn’t working.
Know your limitations— be willing to practice yoga in a way that respects them.