Common Yoga Mistakes to avoid for a safe practice
Yoga is a very wide concept but unfortunately, in today’s time it has been lowered to its trivial form i.e. ‘Yoga Asanas’. The transformation of a person can never take place until he/she doesn’t go through other important aspects of yoga. The person would still remain the same even after years of practice if the focus has always been only yoga poses. It leaves no space for self-growth. Yoga may easily take over you when it becomes an obsession. When it is no longer about enjoying the process of learning. But rather agreed to improve and continue to get better. That’s when it becomes destructing rather than healing.
When yoga is something you do only for the purpose to stay fit. You miss out the spiritual consciousness that one gains through the meditative form of yoga. But it seems that no one has the time to indulge in deeper practices. As we all know, yoga evolved at a time when the way of living was way too different from what it is now. People ate better, were physically active and were able to live peacefully. Yoga came naturally to people back then.
Indian people used to do several activities while sitting in crossed legged position. Even today men and women in rural India perform many everyday activities while sitting on the floor. To an extent, their body was naturally designed to adapt yoga easily. But the modern man took birth in a time where everything from water to air is polluted. Nothing is organic and trustworthy anymore. Lifestyle is sedentary and eating habits even worse.
Yoga is for a person with a healthy body. Now imagine a modern man exposing to yoga. He/she might not be aware of an underlying weakness due to their lifestyle and food. Increasing the probability of facing an injury. There has been a major increase in yoga injuries in the past few years. Some yoga professionals have undergone severe injuries even after years of yoga practice. All those years, their body was degenerating rather than getting stronger.
Most common yoga mistakes and their prevention
The lack of consciousness and awareness leads to yoga mistakes resulting in injuries. Obviously, none of us wishes to make our body suffer but unconsciously we do. There are certain yoga poses that come with a high probability of getting an injury. That’s because misalignment is quite common in such yoga poses.
Injuries occur not only due to misalignment but also because of overdoing or by pushing oneself too far. Common areas are lower back, knees, shoulder and neck. You need to listen to your body when it comes to yoga. This article is to make you aware of yoga mistakes to help you experience a safe and injury-free yoga journey.
Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
Vajrasana is an excellent meditation and relaxation pose. In most of the yogic texts, it advised to practice it for a longer duration of time in order to achieve spiritual gain. Yogis in ancient times used to sit in this pose for even an hour or longer. But recently there have been cases where people had trouble in their legs when they sat in Vajrasana for a long duration.
On checkup, doctors found out that Vajrasana had cut the supply of blood hence oxygen to the sciatic nerve. Causing pain and problem while walking, sitting or standing. It is hard on the ankles as well. Don’t know how it worked out with yogis but I suggest you better avoid practicing it for more than 10 minutes. Start with half a minute and approach slowly to 10 minutes. That too only when it feels comfortable.
Adho Mukha Svasana (Downward Dog Pose)
It is usual to feel a good stretch in your hamstrings each time you come into downward dog. But ensure you don’t take it too hard on your body. In some cases, people had torn their Achilles tension by extremely forcing theirself into a deeper downward dog. Even wrists are at the risk of getting an injury when remaining too long in the pose or trying it repetitively. 3 times is more than enough for most yoga poses. Be gentle with yourself for first 2 times and add a little extra effort in the 3rd and last time to improve. You can sure perform it better when you allow the body to take time and build flexibility.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra pose is a great pose to strengthen the spine. But several people end up getting back pain rather than making the spine strong. If you are doing it wrong you can easily feel the stress on your back while you hold the pose. They key is to not strain the body and taking the least support of arms.
A lot of people put most of the weight on arms and raise high in cobra pose. That’s not a safe way to practice it correctly. Just slowly lift the spine as far as you can. Bend the head back only as far as it feels comfortable. Don’t forget to not put the weight on the arms. The lift will be very short this way but will give you the real benefits.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Trying to be perfect in a yoga pose in a short period of time is the biggest yoga mistake one can make. The ideal position of Sarvangasana is when the body is perpendicular to the floor. And the chin locked deeply in the neck. This position can give your cervical spine a trauma as this is the advanced form of Sarvangasana. You have to approach it very slowly and back off if there is even a slight discomfort. Always practice on a wooden floor. If that’s not possible, use doubled yoga mat or a folded blanket below the shoulders in this pose.
Apply the same cautions to Halasana (Plow Pose).
Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Padmasana is the most challenging pose for people with a stiff body. Flexible people are even more prone to making a yoga mistake in case of Lotus Pose. The base for many yoga poses is padmasana itself. That’s what makes us all eager to learn it fast. Forcing yourself in Lotus Pose can easily give you a serious knee injury taking weeks or months to heal. If you want to lean it the safe way, try practicing some preparatory yoga poses such as Ardha Titli Asana or Ardha Padmasana. They will help you develop flexibility making you able to learn and master Lotus Pose the safe way.
Deep backbends and spinal twists
Cases of lower back injuries have the highest percentage as compared to any other type of yoga injuries. Intense practice over the course of years may develop into severe back problems. An advanced yoga teacher Glenn Black had a serious spine problem after a 40 years experience of yoga. His condition was spinal stenosis. He had to undergo a spinal surgery to save his back from getting worse.
Glenn is probably the only yoga teacher to expose the dangers of yoga. His advice to avoid getting in any such situations goes like this “You have to get a different perspective to see if what you’re doing is going to eventually be bad for you.” The emphasis is again focused on to observe how your body reacts to different poses and act accordingly with care.
The muscles of neck, shoulders and arms endure the weight of the body while you practice Shirshasana. Before you decide to learn Headstand make sure your body is ready for it. To know whether you are strong enough in some other poses such as downward dog, dolphin pose and dolphin plank.
Go slow with preparatory poses as well as they may give an injury too. Start the practice being close to a wall. There is never a need to rush so just with the flow. If your head feels dizzy each time after returning from the pose. Check your alignment with your instructor. If it still happens, avoid doing it again ever. Your body is signaling that it’s not for you. Don’t ignore it.
All in all, there is nothing wrong with yoga. We need to reassess the way we have been practicing it. Most yoga mistakes take place under wrong guidance. There is a crucial need to alarm students from the very beginning of the class and before each yoga pose methods to engage in a safe practice. A lot of people would have been saved from the pain and struggle if their teacher had made them aware of possible yoga mistakes.