yoga teacher certificationBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500 

Aside from making safe and smart preparations to minimize the risks of practicing Yoga at home, there are several ways to prevent injuries that can possibly result from these self-directed Yoga sessions.

1. Start Small

Injuries can often result from beginners starting with Yoga poses that are too challenging for either their level of knowledge or their actual physical strength. New practitioners should never begin Yoga with challenging postures, but should instead, progress through a series of poses that are appropriate to their technical knowledge and physical abilities.

2. Go Slow

One risk, that at-home Yoga practitioners face, is the absence of an experienced instructor whispering words of caution and correction. It is a human tendency to rush through everything to get to the next level.  Those hoping to practice Yoga at home must be careful to fully master a pose before progressing to poses which build upon the strength and technical precision mastered in the earlier, less difficult pose.

For example, inverted poses, such Headstand, build upon skills and strength obtained through other poses, like Shoulder Stand, or less obviously, the Dolphin or Downward Facing Dog postures. Practicing these easier inversions, until they can be done perfectly, will make it safer and easier to do a Headstand, without feeling disoriented or losing balance.  In fact, some practitioners should never attempt to perform a Headstand due to pre-existing health conditions, such as: high blood pressure, heart problems, eye conditions, previous stroke, epilepsy, and much more.

3. Avoid Risky Yoga Poses

Although Yoga can be performed to strengthen the body, a beginner, practicing without direct supervision, should take care to avoid poses that might injure problem areas. For example, those with wrist problems might modify or avoid Yoga poses like Downward Facing Dog that could cause pain or irritate existing injuries. Similarly, those with back or neck issues should be careful of inversion poses that place stress on the neck or spine.

Instead, poses that could aggravate existing physical problems should always be modified and performed under supervision of a competent Yoga instructor, who should be able to identify technical or alignment problems to prevent injury.

4. Use the Right Yoga Equipment

Yoga requires a small investment in good equipment for practitioners who desire to practice at home. Some beginners might try adapting already-owned items, like a towel instead of a sticky mat, for at-home Yoga sessions, but this can be a risky practice since the towel will be more prone to slipping than will a mat. Buying a few bolsters and a Yoga blanket can also make a big difference in safety, because having items available to help in a trickier pose can keep alignment and posture correct, to prevent potential injuries.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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