Common Yoga Injuries and How to Prevent Them


courtesy of Brittany SanAgustin & Mary Ochsner

courtesy of Brittany SanAgustin & Mary Ochsner

Last week we covered seven basic, overarching ways to avoid yoga-related injuries. Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the most common body parts that yogis injure - and learn practical ways to protect yourself.


Hamstrings: One of the most common body parts that can get injured due to yoga is your hamstrings. Forcing your legs straight into any pose - whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down - can damage your hamstring muscles. This kind of injury often builds up gradually, turning into hamstring tendonitis.


How to avoid hamstring injuries: Avoid forcing your legs into any stretches and you’ll find these injuries quite easy to avoid. If hamstrings are not your most flexible body part, apply added focus on contracting the front of your body (quads and lower abs) when you fold forward to let your hamstrings feel safe letting go. Don’t use your hands to pull your body deeper into forward folds. Those of you with a lot of mobility in your hamstrings need to be cautious and focus on engaging your outer hips, as it’s possible for you to overstretch and cause injury.


Shoulders: Yoga can cause shoulder injuries as a result of improper overuse. Poses like plank, chatarunga, cobra pose, and upward facing are common culprits. I’ve also seen shoulder injuries arise due to students not listening to their bodies’ signs of fatigue. Don’t push through chaturangas when your body is screaming for a modification or a rest.

How to avoid shoulder injuries: Avoid putting heavy weight on the joint by keeping the shoulders locked into the back on the poses listed above. Be sure to hug the elbows into the side body as you lower down through chatarungas and drop your knees down if this is hard to accomplish. Nail the elbows grazing into the ribs as you lower first - then try to lower down in one line with knees lifted. In your updog and cobra poses be sure to expand into the collar bones and externally rotate the shoulders and pull them down into the back pockets.


Wrists: Much like elbow injuries, wrist pain is a result of repetitive stress. This small joint is often already aggravated by too much computer usage. Those of you with weaker upper arms and forearms are at a higher risk because you won’t be able to press your palm firmly enough into your mat to relieve the weight placed on your wrist.

How to avoid wrist injuries: Supplement your yoga practice with some basic arm exercises designed to tone and strengthen. Use dumbbells or resistance bands when you visit the gym. The stronger your arms are, the less pressure you’ll place on your wrists. Alternatively, I recommend placing your knees on the ground to modify poses, like chaturanga, while you build wrist strength.


Lower back: Among the most frequent yoga injuries, lower back pain is often caused by rounding your spine in forward folds or downward dog. Rounding and overstretching are a recipe for injury and irritation, as it causes your spine to flex the opposite way it is supposed to.


How to avoid lower back injuries: Don’t shy away from bending your knees in forward folds; this allows your back to decompress and relax. Engage your lower belly in most poses - especially chair - as core strength contributes to a strong, healthy back. Keep a small bend in your knees throughout practice and remember to tuck your pelvis under your spine.


Knees: Knee injuries are often related to a lack of flexibility, especially in poses that target your tight hips. Other times, they’re the result of your knees falling out of alignment in poses like Warrior or triangle pose.

How to avoid knee injuries: When bending your knee in a pose like Warrior 2, always check that it is tracking over your middle toe. You never want it to cave inward because it adds unnecessary strain. When your knee is straight, avoid locking your knee joint. Additionally, avoid spending long periods of time in deep hip openers until you build flexibility there.


Neck: Any time you apply pressure to your neck - such as during a headstand - you’re compressing your neck. This can lead to pain in your cervical vertebrae. Your neck is one of the scariest places to harm, since it takes so long to heal properly.

How to avoid neck injuries: Never put pressure on your head in any kind of inversion - including when you prepare for full wheel. Don’t force yourself into poses that the rest of your body (shoulders, wrists, abs) isn’t prepared to support you in.


Given all the proven benefits of yoga, but also the many potential risks, what should you yogis do? My biggest advice to avoiding yoga injuries is a combination of gradually easing into each practice, noting when your body feels pain over sensation, and mixing yoga with other exercise forms to strengthen weak areas.

At Yoga Fever, it’s our mission to teach an anatomically-sound yoga practice that keeps your bodies safe and strong! If you ever start noticing pain or discomfort, let your yoga instructor know so we can help adjust you or modify your pose.



The Story Behind Yoga Fever

Hot Yoga Studio

The Love Story Behind Our Studio

For some, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to spend quality time with their significant other. For others, it’s a reminder to demonstrate love and vulnerability toward friends and family members. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to share my honest, vulnerable story behind the creation of Yoga Fever - and the tremendous community we’re building together.

The Story of Yoga Fever (the abbreviated version)

This story starts in 2014, when my sister passed away unexpectedly. It was definitely the toughest time of my life. It took a lot of soul searching, contemplation, forgiveness and letting go to move out of that state of constant grief. About a year later, when I was beginning to recover and rebuild, I knew I had to do something meaningful with my life. No longer could I coast along doing things I didn’t love; I felt inspired - and almost obligated - to do more, to make my sister proud and to make a real difference. Life is too damn short to not be happy. I was on a quest to find internal bliss by creating a life of purpose.

One afternoon, I happened to drive by a commercial space available for rent. I immediately was struck by the thought: “What if?! Could I possibly open a studio?” Of course, I pulled over and the light bulb continued to get brighter as I planned my perfect studio in my head (in under 5 minutes. Ha!). Every open commercial space caught my eye and got me thinking. Even at the very beginning, I knew I had to create a studio that captured the philosophies and traditions of yoga, paired with the modern hot yoga style. I hadn’t really experienced a studio that did both in the midwest, but I assumed there had to be other like-minded individuals like me who wanted to mix classical yoga with modern hot vinyasa.

While these thoughts were beginning to permeate my mind, I was busy teaching corporate yoga at Steelcase, teaching at local studios, and working my day job doing marketing. I come from a long line of persistent entrepreneurs - but I certainly wasn’t wealthy. I had a small savings account and a big dream; great role models and my angel beside me.

So, I spent weeks drafting a business plan. Looking back, this was an incredibly tough time for me. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or do anything besides work on this plan. Finally, with the help and advice of my family members, I pitched my plan to local banks - all of whom turned me down. Losing steam and about to give up, I ended up at a non profit in Grand Rapids that helps women and minorities in business. This incredible organization believed in me when no one else did. I was able to sign a lease on my ideal studio space and officially launch into this journey. I opened Yoga Fever on January 18, 2016 and we still have students with us who came to our very first night. To say that is an amazing feeling is an understatement. Every time I feel the weight of business owner on my shoulders I remind myself of my purpose, my reasons why I signed up for this and feel grateful that I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity.

Yoga Fever has surpassed all of my expectations and grown into such a beautiful community. But I couldn’t do any of this without the help and support of Team Fever. I try to remain humble, as I rely on several family members, mentors and colleagues to guide me in my decisions for the studio.

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We just celebrated our third birthday, and the outpouring of love and support for Yoga Fever was simply overwhelming. Every single class was sold out. And our horizon is still incredibly bright! In this past year, we’ve introduced Yin Yoga and added Buti Yoga to our full-time schedule. We have seen three brilliant classes of yoga teacher training graduates, some of whom now teach in the studio! Inspiring guest teachers have taught prenatal yoga, The Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Live Music with Girish, and Ayurveda workshops. We have donated several proceeds to organizations such as Toys for Tots, West Michigan Humane Society, and more. My goal is to continue working together to create new workshops and events that allow us to practice in innovative ways.

To all of you who make the choice to practice with us, to learn about yoga, and to heal your body and mind, thank you and a HUMONGOUS NAMASTE.