There is a lot of yoga out there on the internet and a sea of yoga teachers and other companies spewing out information. It kind of makes you wonder, “Can I really trust these people?”
The truth is, no matter how much you love your yoga teacher (live or virtual) or trust a certain brand, you really don’t know if they’re giving you correct information or not. You have no idea where they got their training, how much they know about the body, and if they’re telling you something that could potentially get you hurt.
While this is quite a scary thought, fear no more! We can equip ourselves with knowledge beforehand, so that if our yoga teacher gives us an alignment cue (a.k.a. tells us where to put our bodies) we can make a judgement on our own based on what we know about maintaining a healthy body.
There is no way that I can give you all the information I’ve learned over the past 20ish years of studying dance, anatomy, yoga, and movement. I’d basically have to write you a book (P.S. if you’d like to fund/publish that book, email me here. I’m totally down). However, what I can do is give you these 4 tips about how the body works and how you can best protect your body from injury.
Tip 1: “The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…”
We all know the song, and while, the “leg bone” is not the anatomical term for the bottom half of our leg (tibia and fibula), there is some real truth behind it that we can all use in our yoga classes. Here’s what I mean:
The ankle joint is very stable and quite strong, and since it is connected to our knee joint via the tibia (a.k.a. our “leg bone” as the little song tells us), it supports the knee joint. When we bend our knee, and it’s holding the majority of our weight, it should be aligned directly with the ankle for maximum support. In that situation, if the knee is too far forward, left or right of our ankle, that’s when we could cause knee injuries such as patellar tendonitis, ligament or tendon tares, etc..
In terms of the top half of our body, it’s best to always refer back to our tadasana (mountain pose) because it is the true foundation of all yoga poses. So, learn tadasana. Know it, love it, and think of it often throughout your yoga class. Here’s my video all about it: How To Do Mountain Pose
So, here’s my own version of this classic tune that we all know and love:
The ankle joint supports the… knee joint. The knee joint supports the…. pelvis. The pelvis supports the… spine. The spine supports the… head. And that’s how we don’t get injured! YEAH!
(P.S. if you’d like to fund the recording of this song, email me here. I’m totally down)
Tip 2: Listen to your teacher’s words more than using her body as an example
I find this tip more helpful in regards to yoga videos on the internet. I make online videos myself, and let me tell you, my body is NOT 100% perfect. Sometimes when I look back on my videos, I think of all the corrections that I would give to myself if I were my own student!
What I’m trying to say is that I know how to correctly get into the pose, and I can articulate it with my words, but sometimes, my body needs a little more catching up. Yoga asana is challenging, and it takes years and years of practice in order to “master” some of these poses. I know in my mind how to do it and how to guide my students into it correctly, but my body is often not yet flexible or strong enough to be the “perfect” example. We’re all human, and we all have weaknesses.
Another HUGE point along these lines is that everyone’s body is different! What my body looks like in the pose may be completely different to what your body looks like in the pose. We shouldn’t be comparing our bodies to anyone else. We all are different and unique, and that’s what makes us special. Aw! Now isn’t that sweet?
Tip 3: Listen to your body!
Somewhere inside of us, we all know the difference between pain that’s making us stronger and pain that is causing serious damage. Just in case we aren’t quite that in tuned with our bodies yet, here’s a quick tip: if you’re feeling pain in any of your joints (ankles, knees, hips, center of your lower back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, etc.) then that’s a good indication to stop what you’re doing immediately.
Ask your teacher to take a look at what you’re doing, and if she doesn’t know how to fix the problem, then refer back to my little song or what you know about the proper alignment in tadasana. Get someone to take a picture or video of you in the pose that caused you pain, so you can see it better. Don’t just continue on in the pose and work through the pain hoping it’ll pass because odds are, if it’s a joint pain, you could be seriously injuring yourself through repetitive incorrect motion. Stop, reevaluate, and then continue when you feel better in the pose.
Tip 4: Don’t be afraid to use props!
I was in a yoga class the other day, and it was fairly advanced. There are certain things that I still need props to do such as revolved triangle pose, and of course, when the pose came around during the class I was the only one out of like 20 people who needed a block. In my head, my little miss negative voice was like, “Oh no, everyone’s definitely judging you for using a prop here. You shouldn’t need a prop in this pose at this level! Why aren’t you a better yogi?” Thankfully, my meditation practice has taught me to observe the little miss negative instead of letting her effect me right away.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that nobody cares about anyone else in this classroom but themselves. Even if someone was judging me, that was their problem because I wasn’t about to put myself in a situation to get injured just because I wanted a bunch of strangers to think I was a “good yogi.” Moral of the story: if the pose feels better in your body with a prop then use the prop! Don’t hurt yourself to look cool. Do what you need to feel good in your own yoga practice. Bottom line!
So, there you have it! A few tips to help you safely travel through your yoga journey injury-free! I hope that helped you out! Now I want to hear from you! Do you have any tips on how to have a safe and injury-free yoga practice? If so, write them in the comments below!
Thanks so much for joining me here on Girl On Yoga! Have a great rest of your day! Namaste.
Girl On Yoga is a blog about yoga, lifestyle, and healthy / mindful living. If you have any questions that you'd like answered on the blog, submit them here.
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