Yoga Exercises

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Body’s Limitations & Avoid Yoga Injuries

YJ Influencer Laura Burkhart gives the story of her personal persistent ache and hip damage as a warning to yogis and encourages you to get trustworthy about your personal follow.

Yogis, it’s time to get trustworthy with yourselves and begin respecting your physique’s limitations. We’ve all heard success tales of people that have healed their physique, thoughts, and feelings by way of yoga. But these days, I’ve been listening to about increasingly more college students and academics (together with myself) who’ve been harm by their asana apply. 

Why is everybody speaking about yoga accidents unexpectedly? For one factor, there are extra individuals working towards yoga now and so possible extra accidents. But getting injured by yoga, which most of us begin doing for its therapeutic advantages, may also be complicated, embarrassing, and counterintuitive. All of that may make it onerous to speak about.

My Yoga Injury Story

I began training yoga throughout a time once I was coping with persistent health issues and a whole lot of stress. I used to be initially attracted to it, as a result of it jogged my memory of the shifting meditative high quality I used to discover in dance. But in contrast to dance, the place I used to be taught to push previous ache and problem with a smile on my face, yoga, mockingly, inspired me to respect my physique and its limits.

While I assumed I used to be working inside my limitations, years into my yoga apply, I made the choice to cease lifting leg weights so as to improve my flexibility to get into Visvamitrasana, which might ultimately be photographed for this Master Class article in Yoga Journal. I used to be pleased when my constant follow “paid off” and I used to be in a position to work into “advanced” poses that required a whole lot of flexibility and arm power. What I didn’t know was that 14 years of dance, adopted by 16 years of yoga, plus 7 years of not counteracting all of the stretching with power training, had led to overuse of my hip joints and pressure on my tendons and muscle fibers.

A few years in the past, my physique began telling me it was exhausted and didn’t need to do lengthy practices or excessive poses. Did I pay attention? No. I had massive plans, work to do, courses to movie, and payments to pay. One day, whereas demonstrating Compass Pose, I pulled my left knee into my armpit and instantly felt a deep ache in my left groin. My preliminary response was frustration with my physique for not maintaining with me. I pushed previous the ache and continued doing the whole lot I’d been doing. Every week later, whereas educating I demonstrated Side Plank with my prime (injured) leg in Tree Pose and heard a “pop.” That was the straw that broke the camel’s again. I used to be in a lot ache that I might barely sleep or stroll for five months. During that point, to train I both sat in a chair or hobbled round in ache.

Today, 19 months later, after three x-rays, two MRIs, six docs, six bodily therapists, two acupuncturists, and a number of injections, I’m nonetheless strolling on eggshells. It’s painful to stretch, strengthen, and externally rotate my left leg or pull my left thigh towards my chest. I’ve slowly progressed from 14 to 43 easy yoga poses, however fundamentals like Happy Baby, Child’s Pose, Crescent Lunge, Warrior II, Triangle, or a simple cross-legged position are troublesome for me. After a yr of being misdiagnosed, I came upon I had labrum tears, a strained psoas, a number of hamstring and gluteal tears, tendonitis, and tendonosis. According to my orthopedic physician, the labrum tears have been brought on by repetitive deep hip flexion—the top of the femur bone hitting the hip socket. (Think poses like Visvamitrasana, Tittibhasana, deep ahead bends, and even Child’s Pose.) Unfortunately, my labrum and gluteal tears may need to be fastened surgically, which may also include a bonus package deal of 5–12 months of rehab.

I haven’t talked a lot about my damage, not a lot out of embarrassment or secrecy, however as a result of I decided a few months into the therapeutic course of to give attention to the constructive and what I might do, quite than what I could not. I discover speaking concerning the damage, and specializing in the bodily and emotional ache it is brought on, is a miserable street that leads nowhere. 

See additionally Prevent Yoga Injuries: 3 Risky Poses You Can Make Safer

Unfortunately, I’m not the one yogi coping with critical damage.

It did not take lengthy to attain out to a handful of different extremely expert academics who’ve been injured by yoga. Like myself, Jill Miller and Melanie Salvatore August have suffered from main hip accidents due, in our opinion, to overuse. Jill just lately had a hip alternative. Sarah Ezrin lately had shoulder surgical procedure for an damage that she believes too many Chaturangas and binds contributed to. Similarly, Kathryn Budig assumes years of repetitive motion, vinyasas, and emotional stress led to the shoulder labrum tear she just lately recovered from. Jason Bowman had surgical procedure for a knee damage that he attributes partially to the common follow of poses requiring exterior rotation paired with deep knee flexion like Lotus Pose. Meagan McCrary thinks it was 10 years of hyperextension and nerve entrapment round her joints in follow that short-circuited her nervous system and prompted her extreme continual ache. I additionally know many academics who’ve had to scale back the depth of their apply or focus extra on power training due to non-yoga-related accidents.

In the classroom, I see shoulder accidents most frequently. They have a tendency to occur to formidable newer college students who skip studying the fundamentals and push exhausting the primary 6–18 months making an attempt to “advance” their follow. Normally I discover college students expertise shoulder ache once they follow too typically, do too many Chaturangas (incorrectly), or attempt to get into arm balances when their alignment is off. Luckily, most college students are grateful for any tips and corrections when it comes to damage prevention whereas different college students don’t assume the changes or warnings are for them till it’s too late.

See additionally Study Finds Yoga Injuries Are on the Rise (Plus, 4 Ways to Avoid Them)

What do you do after a yoga damage?

On a brighter observe, in case you are injured, your life just isn’t over by any means. I’ve truly “accomplished” extra since I’ve been injured by considering outdoors the field and stepping past the strains of the trail I had created. I found that I really like writing articles and blogs, mentoring academics, experimenting with yoga props, swimming, and having a easy, but satisfying yoga apply. I nonetheless take yoga photographs (a few of which have been revealed in Yoga Journal Italy and Singapore). And I’m at present making a co-led instructor training with Jason Crandell. My damage has given me a chance to step again and create a unique life for myself.

That being stated, I might do something to return in time, to have listened to my physique, and to not have pushed so exhausting in my follow. I want I might have prevented ending up in my present restricted state, having to continually monitor and be cautious with my physique. I want I did not expertise ache in my left hip, decrease again, and hamstrings each day. It would even be superb not to fear about how I’m going to get properly or my therapeutic timeline. I’ve accepted the truth that I’ll not do crazy yoga poses, however I might love to someday do easy poses akin to Triangle on my left aspect or transfer via a vinyasa with out ache or worry of reinjuring my physique. 

These tales usually are not to scare you, however to encourage you to watch out, pay attention to your physique, and never to push previous your God-given limitations! You can have a healthy follow that’s extraordinarily useful to your physique if you will get actual with your self about it. The following questions are a very good place to begin.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Yoga Practice

1. Does your apply stability the remainder of your life?

If you’re already performing high-intensity actions resembling operating, swimming, biking, and so on., I like to recommend selecting an asana follow that’s much less intense in nature, corresponding to Iyengar or restorative practice. That means you’ll be able to reap the advantages of yoga and keep away from overusing your joints, tendons, and muscle mass. On the flipside, for those who lead a sedentary life, then a vinyasa apply may convey your physique into stability.

2. Do you apply an excessive amount of?

As practitioners get critical about asana, some really feel the necessity to do an intense 90-plus-minute follow, 5–7 days every week. Many yogis attempt to sustain with this “expectation” as a result of they consider it is what a “true yogi” would do. Unfortunately, for many people, too intense of a follow too typically also can lead to overuse of joints and pointless repetitive stress on tendons and muscle fibers. I personally don’t advocate doing lengthy, high-intensity yoga practices greater than three–four days every week.

three. What motivates you to follow?

Your instructor? Your ego? Social media? Your physique? Some of us need to “master” complicated asana to win favor and reward from our academics, fellow practitioners, or social media followers. 

This want for approval and recognition may be exacerbated when academics encourage college students to push deeper into poses, or reward college students who’ve the power to get into troublesome asana, somewhat than applauding college students with mastery of alignment and stability. If you all the time need to go deeper or make a pose “more advanced,” the place is that coming from and why?

four. Does what you’re doing harm?

If it hurts, don’t do it. Period. Regardless of whether or not your instructor is pushing you to go additional, otherwise you see different individuals going deeper. 

We come from tradition of “no pain, no gain” and pushing previous our limits. Hard work, sacrifice, and going the additional mile get us good grades, promotions, and wins in sports activities. While this mindset can lead to development, it could additionally lead to imbalance. Your inner drive could also be excessive, however your anatomical construction can solely take a lot. Too a lot pushing can lead to impingement, pressure, and tears within the joints, tendons, and muscle tissues. Honor your physique’s limitations. 

If you’ve got present accidents, inform your instructor. Your instructor ought to find a way to present you ways to modify poses, which poses to keep away from, and perhaps even information you towards poses to heal what ails you. You may additionally want to again off your depth with the apply to keep away from making the damage worse.

5. Are you defending your shoulders?

In Chaturanga, do your shoulders dip under the extent of your elbows? Do you bounce again each time you vinyasa? Do you land in Chaturanga or Plank? I like to recommend limiting jumpbacks and touchdown in Chaturanga if you do. For most of your vinyasas, I like to recommend decreasing your knees to your mat or skipping Chaturanga all collectively to forestall repetitive stress accidents, resembling labrum tears and rotator cuff points. If you have got a pre-existing shoulder difficulty, keep away from Chaturanga and arm balances.

See additionally 7 Steps to Master Chaturanga Dandasana

6. Are you defending your hips?

Are you listening to your physique? In poses the place you externally rotate your legs and/or go into deep hip flexion (like Compass Pose, Tittibhasana, Visvamitrasana, Krounchasana), observe how far your physique naturally needs to go with out pushing additional. Also contemplate balancing out hip flexibility with abduction, adduction, and gluteal power training.

7. Are you defending your knees?

A couple of pointers: In standing poses, do not let your bent knee go previous your ankle. In standing poses that require exterior rotation like Warrior II, rotate the entrance leg from the hip socket relatively than the entrance foot. Be positive your physique is properly warmed up for poses that require deep exterior rotation with knee flexion like Full Lotus Pose earlier than trying them. If you have already got points together with your knees, keep away from Pigeon Pose and apply Thread the Needle in your again as an alternative.

eight. Are you defending your decrease again?

Do you heat up earlier than going into deep twists? Recently, many senior academics and bodily therapists alike have begun recommending not squaring your hips in twists, particularly should you’re hypermobile, to shield the decrease again and SI joints. If you have already got decrease again points or have tight hip and hamstrings, watch out with ahead bends, notably seated ahead bends. In seated ahead bends elevate your self on a block or folded blanket to keep away from rounding your decrease again.

9. Are you engaged on mastering alignment and growing stability?

I view a complicated scholar as one who is aware of how to align their physique and use applicable props when wanted. Better alignment may also show you how to keep away from accidents.

10. Can you be proud of the place you’re?

Be within the current second; give attention to what you are able to do now, not what you used to do, or what you assume you have to be doing a month from now. Your follow will change through the years. Don’t get too hooked up to the present season. This doesn’t imply you’ll be able to’t have objectives, however be real looking and see the place your objectives are coming from, and if it honors your physique.

Shift your objectives from depth, power, flexibility, and sophisticated asana to digging under the bodily. Our yoga tradition has drifted away from the aim of asana. The apply was initially meant to put together the thoughts and physique for meditation, not a profession as a contortionist. 

See additionally 4 Poses to Prevent + Heal Shoulder Injuries

My Practice Then & Now


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