Safe Yoga Practices
You might be surprised to learn that every year thousands of people end up in the hospital due to yoga injuries.
A few simple steps can help you stay safe, avoid the emergency room, and enjoy a safe yoga practice.
If you’re new to yoga, be sure to start in a beginner’s class. You’ll be able to practice the poses without feeling competitive or overwhelmed. If you can afford it, a private instructor can help you learn the poses quickly, and their hands on guidance can be invaluable.
Use Proper Equipment
You’d be surprised at how many people practice yoga with the wrong equipment, or no equipment at all. Blocks, straps and yoga mats are all designed to help enhance a yoga practice and aid the movements. They can help you ease into a yoga practice and adapt to the poses as your body changes and grows.
Wear Good Clothing
Yoga class is not the place for tennis shoes, jeans, and a wool sweater. You want to wear clothing that lets your body move freely but isn’t baggy. It’s too easy to trip over long pants legs! Socks generally aren’t worn, unless they’re yoga socks, which tend to have a sticky bottom that adheres to the floor or a yoga mat.
Slipping on floors is a good way to get hurt. Bare feet work best. And because there are many inverted poses, meaning you’re upside down, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing a shirt that doesn’t flop over your head. Form-fitting tank tops, cami-tops, or sports bras work best for women. Men may prefer to wear a t-shirt or tank top.
Learn from an Expert
Many people prefer to practice yoga in the comfort of their homes. There are many top quality DVDs available, and there are online podcasts and videos you can access as well. However, when you’re at home, you lose the benefit of an instructor.
Consider taking a class or two or hiring a private instructor before you begin your home practice. This way, you can ensure you’re performing the poses in a safe and correct manner.
Listen to Your Body
Many people push their bodies beyond their limits. The most common injuries are wrist injuries, back injuries, and knee and hip injuries. If you’re feeling sore, find a way to modify a pose so that your joints or muscles aren’t compromised. Remember that some days are better than others, and it’s important to mentally adapt to your physical changes.
You know that exercise is good for you. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times on television, and maybe your doctor’s told you to get more exercise too.
There are few fitness programs that offer broad scope health benefits. Running, for example, strengthens your cardiovascular system, and strength training builds muscles. Yoga is one of the few fitness programs that can accomplish both and much more.
So, as I wrap up this guide, let me point out some important things to take with you in what you have learned and to keep in mind.
Mobility and Flexibility
As you age, and we’re talking about once you’ve passed that 25-year mark, your body begins to lose some of its mobility. Your muscles can become short and tight. Your tendons can stiffen and your joints may often feel sore. When this happens, simple day-to-day movements can become painful or difficult. You may not be able to touch your toes.
When you walk a long distance, you may notice that your back aches. And if you try to reach over your head to put something away, you may feel pain in your neck or shoulders. This is due to a lack of mobility.
Yoga can improve your mobility, meaning it can help lengthen those tight muscles and tendons. It can give you a better range of motion so that when you move your body, you do it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Not only will you feel better, you’ll stop having those awful aches and pains.
Yoga often requires you to hold a position for a long period of time. And in most cases, you’re supporting your full body weight. This requires you to build great strength.
Most yoga positions recruit strength from your large muscle groups, like your core muscles, for example. As these muscles increase in strength, you’ll find they expand to other areas of your life. Your posture will improve.
You’ll be stronger, physically, and thus able to lift and carry more than you used to. And you’ll build muscle, which burns fat and looks pretty darn fantastic too.
Yoga requires a few things that impact and reduce your stress level. The first stress-reducing component is breathing. Many yoga styles have a structured breathing protocol. When you focus on your breathing, it automatically lowers cortisol (a stress hormone) and lowers your heart rate.
Additionally, yoga requires great focus. Some poses not only ask you to hold your body in a balanced position, they also ask you to pay attention to your body and make slight adjustments to improve the pose.
You’re looking inward and focusing solely on your body and the very moment you’re in. This focus reduces stress. It’s akin to meditation, and it’s wonderful for the health of your body and your mind.
There are numerous other yoga health benefits as well: improved breathing, better posture, and weight loss are just a few more to consider. If you’re looking for a new fitness program to try, you just can’t go wrong with yoga.