How to Prevent Injury In These 9 Common Yoga Poses
Are you a yoga teacher puzzled by your student’s aches or yoga injuries? Maybe you’re a yogi who just wants to be safe and informed during your practice to avoid injury? Either way, we can agree that yoga injury prevention is important.
If you’re looking to learn more about the most common yoga injuries, proper alignment cues, and modifications then you’re in luck!
Yoga-related injuries are a real thing and should not be ignored. By being informed, practicing yoga consistently, and being patient, you can prevent injuries from occurring as you deepen your practice.
Below are nine common yoga poses along with tips on how prevent the most common injuries for each!
Common Yoga Injuries Can Be Avoided! Follow These Pro Tips for Injury Prevention
If you’re a student, apply these tips the next time you get on your mat. And teachers – these tips are great for yoga injury prevention, so you can add these to your teaching toolkit!
1. Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose is an important pose to understand proper form and muscle engagement. Bad form or not warming up first can cause discomfort or even lead to injury. However, there are ways to combat this discomfort avoid injury.
Safety tips for practicing Triangle Pose:
- Put your hand on a yoga block at the height of your choice to allow your torso to
lift so the side of your torso and hip doesn’t have to stretch as far
- Micro-bend your front knee to relax the calf muscles, and bring more blood flow through your leg. Micro-bending is also recommended for those who are prone to hyperextending through the knee. Skip this variation if you feel comfortable straightening the front leg
- Scoop your pelvis forward and engage your core to protect your lower back and avoid dumping all the weight into the lumbar spine region
2. Downward Facing Dog
While many assume this pose is easy because it’s so popular, Downward-Facing Dog actually requires a decent amount of strength and flexibility. Therefore, some yogis experience pain in the wrists, shoulders, neck, lower back, and achilles tendons if they push themselves too far in this pose.
Safety tips for practicing Downward Facing Dog:
- Bend your knees as much as needed to relieve tension in the lower back
- Your heels do not need to touch the floor! If you feel pain in the hamstrings or Achilles tendons, keep your heels as lifted as needed
- Relax your neck and let your head hang heavy, bringing your gaze towards your toes to prevent tension in your neck and shoulders
- Spread your fingers wide and grip the mat with each individual fingertip to take pressure off your wrists and avoid any wrist issues
Curious about your alignment in Down Dog? Watch This Yoga Pose Tutorial Video
3. Bridge Pose
It’s easy to misalign the body in Bridge Pose when the hamstrings and lower back begin to feel weak. However, alignment is crucial to prevent knee injury. Another frequent mistake is trying to push the pelvis up too high which in turn can result in lower back pain.
Safety tips for practicing Bridge Pose:
- Keep your knees parallel to each other and all ten toes pointing forward
- Bring your feet closer to the buttocks to allow a greater arch in the back without overcompensating lower back muscles. Skip this variation if you are prone to knee pain
- Keep your chin slightly tucked towards your chest and do not look around once your hips are lifted
4. Supine Spinal Twist
Lower back, arm, and neck pain are common complaints that accompany Supine Spinal Twist. In this pose, there are ways to increase and decrease the twist in the neck and lower back. There are also ways to modify your arm placement if needed.
Safety tips for practicing Supine Spinal Twist:
- Lower the knees down and away from the hips to decrease tension in the hips and lower back
- Don’t force your knees to touch all the way down to the floor – just allow them to hang in that general direction to keep the twist gentle
- Turn your head in the same direction as your knees if the neck is stiff
- For a different arm variation, rest one hand on your knee and one hand on your heart
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Whether practiced against a wall or away from the wall, Headstand can be dangerous if
practiced incorrectly. If you fall out of the pose, you could bump into something around you which could lead to injury. You can also strain your neck if you do not properly distribute your weight.
Safety tips for practicing Headstand:
- Focus on pressing your hands and shoulders into the floor to take weight off your neck and crown of the head
- If you don’t feel fully confident holding your Headstand pose, do it with your back against the wall and be sure there is no hanging art or surrounding furniture etc
- A strong core and legs are just as important as strong shoulders to hold the pose. Keep everything engaged to help hold the pose
Recommended Read: 7 Tips to Practice Headstand Safely
6. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a relaxing pose to many, but for those with tight hips, it can be difficult to bring the buttocks down toward the heels. This pose can also be a lot for sensitive knees.
Finally, if you come into an active Child’s Pose (stretching the spine by grounding the hands and bringing the buttocks toward the heels), you can risk overextension of the spine, which can result in lower back pain.
Safety tips for practicing Child’s Pose:
- If your hips are tight, place one block (or stack two blocks) between the ankles for
cushion to relax into the pose with ease
- For sensitive knees, place a folded blanket between the back of your thighs and calves, then slowly lower your seat onto the blanket and enter Child’s Pose as normal
- When you practice an active Child’s Pose, be mindful of how much you’re vertically stretching the spine. The stretch should feel comfortable, not painful
Want more? Check out How to Practice Child’s Pose For Beginners
7. Half Lord of the Fishes
Inner thigh pain and shoulder pain can occur if you’re not properly warmed up for this pose. To safely enter this pose, there are a few movements and variations you can do to make it more comfortable.
Safety tips for practicing Half Lord of the Fishes:
- If you’re lacking shoulder mobility, wrap the opposing arm around your bent knee instead of placing the opposing elbow on the outside of the knee to prevent shoulder pain
- If the inner thigh isn’t warmed up yet, bringing your leg that will be bent into the arms like you would cradle a baby, and rock it side to side for several breaths. This makes it easier to cross the leg over the opposing leg
- If you are pregnant, it’s advised to avoid closed twists. To modify, you can either skip the twist or twist away from your bent knee (instead of towards it) and focus on twisting the upper back only.
8. Standing Split Pose
New yogis will often get frustrated with their flexibility and try to force their lifted leg up as high as they can, when really, the focus should be on comfortably stretching the quad (front of thigh) and hamstring (back of thigh).
Not only can raising your leg too high cause injury, but it also leads to misalignment. The hip will rotate to compensate for the leg trying to go higher.
Safety tips for practicing Standing Split Pose:
- Focus on the stretch in the standing leg rather than focusing on rising the back leg to keep the thigh muscles safe
- If the hands can’t touch the ground, place a yoga block under each hand instead of
straining the neck and shoulders to reach the floor
9. Garland Pose
Garland Pose, or Malasana, is a deep hip opener, but when attempted with tight inner thigh muscles, tearing of the muscles is a very painful possibility. Another common situation is not being able to touch the heels to the floor. Forcing your heels to the floor reluctantly can cause Achilles tendon pain.
Safety tips for practicing Garland Pose:
- If your heels don’t touch the ground, place a rolled up blanket under your heels, rather than trying to force the heels to the ground
- If you can’t come into full Malasana, start by keeping your hips higher. After a few breaths, the inner thighs will start to relax
- Bringing your hands into prayer position and placing the elbows on the inner knees can help open the hips even more, but be mindful not to push them beyond your limit
Yoga Injury Prevention Starts Here!
Whether you are a teacher, student, or a seasoned yogi, preventing injuries is something that should always be at the forefront of our minds.
By taking the proper precautions and practicing consistently with well-educated and experienced teachers, you can prevent injuries and get the most out of your practice every time you hit the mat.
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