Prevention of Yoga Injuries and Safety in Teaching and Practice

Yoga in India, developed as a spiritual discipline in the philosophical systems.The principles and practices have been practiced by many people from the ancient times in order to find the harmony in the life. The practice of yogic practices such as asana, pranayama, and meditation and relaxation techniques are contributing a lot for the promotion of physical and mental health and in the prevention of the diseases particularly psychosomatic diseases.

Applications of Yoga are supporting the health care system in greater strength as preventive medicine and therapy, though yoga is not a practice of therapy in its original sense. The popularity of physically oriented modules of yoga is increasing and many people join the yoga classes for many reasons such as fitness and general positive health, a remedy for specific medical/health issues or some emotional problems.

Contrary to the advantages of the practices of Yoga, few people in some practical classes experience some yoga injuries on account of various reasons. The classical texts on Traditional Yoga Curriculum explain the methodology of the practice meticulously with the guidelines of the practice and their approach.When these rules are ignored or violated in the practice; they shall attract some of the discomfort and limitations on part of the practitioner. There is a long list of the reasons to be in trouble, but in summary, these are the few causes which bring injuries.

Lack of discipline in food and lifestyle:
Yoga is a way of discipline; it requires a person to inculcate the healthy and yogic lifestyle which supports the journey of the practice. Quantity and quality of the food is another important aspect to tune our mind and body for the yogic practices. Poor discipline on these two areas while in the practice can invite various difficulties.

Excessive efforts from students:
Yoga practices are continued for a long time with consistency without any interruptions. Excessive effort from the students to achieve the poses too quickly with exertion can be prone for the strains and sprains in muscles. The practices are continued with relaxed efforts without any undue exertion to enjoy them to the best possible extent on regular basis. This will help in deepening the proficiency and progress in the practice without injuries.

Poor technique in the practice:
Inadequate or improper instructions from teachers can be harmful sometime in the classes. The teaching sequence and selection of the practices must be suitable to meet the needs of the participants without subjecting them to too much challenge and difficulty. The flow of the class requires ensuring the complementary benefits from each of the previous technique and a preparation for further step. Clarity, precise explanation is necessary for the correct understanding of the methodology for practice. Yoga Teacher Training Course helps to master these skills effectively and one has to imbibe them in the journey of teaching.

Previous injury or condition:
Unknown pre-existing conditions can aggravate the intensity of the current problems. Hence it is advisable for both teacher and student to take the stock of the situation to prevent further injuries. The teacher can guide the students for suitable selection and sequence of the practice to overcome the pre-existing conditions of limitations. The knowledge on anatomy and physiology and the clinical assessment ability of the teacher will be of great help in this area to guide his students.

Poor warm-up:
Last but not the least, poor warm-up can be another reason for the trouble in a practical class. The practical sessions on the asana are practiced with sufficient warm up. Sun Salutations is one of the great practices to begin the class with an objective of warming the whole body. Some joint loosening movements are also good before subjecting the group of muscles for an intense stretching while in the practice.

Prevention of the injuries can be achieved by the discipline with traditional guidelines to the practices from the competent teachers as explained in the Hatha Yoga and Patanjala Yoga Sutras.

Enriching the practical experience of the teaching with sufficient personal practice is also important means for running a safe Yoga class having the knowledge of the functional relationship of the Yoga practices with the structural relationship of the human anatomy and physiology.

E.g Prevention of the injuries in the neck region.

Overview of the study of the skeletal structure of the spinal column shows that cervical spine is most vulnerable to the strains or injuries due to its high mobility. The poses of Inversions and backbends are bit challenging for the safety of the neck region. A teacher can develop his insights for these two types of poses to protect the neck as follows.

1) Backbends in Neck protection: Achieving the maximum possible arch in the thoracic spine (i.e. camel, up dog, Cobra) can be useful.
2) Inversions: Prevention of the excess flexion of the neck is a primary concern as it can put the load of the body on the neck itself. To achieve the safe approach for this type of poses such as shoulder stand pose, students can be advised to use the arms and shoulders to support the body’s weight. Secondly, Student can apply abdominal strength and vigorous stretch in the legs. And further the preparation by strengthening and stretching the neck and shoulders.

Self-study, practice and proper training in different modules of yoga is good for enhancing the personal practice and teaching experience with safety principles.