Doesn’t it always seem that just as you’re getting really comfortable and strong in your yoga practice, an injury comes along that knocks you off your feet and requires you to slow down? Whether it’s a strained muscle or a broken bone, the lesson is simple: time to rest and heal.
Thankfully, yoga is a form of exercise that thrives off of alterations, changes, and meeting you where you are each time you step on your mat. It offers plenty of variations for those needing to ease up, and it actually can help you prevent or recover from injuries.
When You’ve Gone Too Far
As a general rule, you should never feel pain in your joints. If you do feel pinching sensations, it’s an indication to stop and relearn your technical approach.
Muscles are a different story. Muscular soreness is an unavoidable sensation caused by any physical activity: running, biking, weight lifting, dancing. This kind of soreness is natural. But if you start feeling pain in your joints – such as in the vertebrae or shoulder joints – while attempting complex movements, it’s time to modify.
Wave your yoga instructor down and ask for a few pointers. At Yoga Fever, we do our best to help students right during class, but if we can’t answer all your questions, please grab us before or after class!
Conquering the Ego
If you are experiencing an injury, one of the hardest things to face is your own ego. You’ll begin to cringe when you have to back out of a pose or rest in child’s pose rather than following the sequence you used to easily flow through. I’ve got some blunt honesty for you: let the ego bleed itself to death. This is exactly what you’ll need to free yourself from the whiny voice in your head that thinks your value is tied to your success.
Then, you’ll be able to reframe your mind. Injury demands you to ask what your priority in yoga really is. When you can no longer do the “cool” poses, you must identify whether your motivation is finding inner peace or simply mastering advanced poses.
1. Sudden or Acute Pain– Do you know the difference between stretching within your limits and pushing beyond them? Often, we slip into the latter and our body gives a shout of pain.
What to Do: Speak up if something doesn’t feel quite right when your instructor makes an adjustment. Give yourself some compassion when you have the desire to force or contort yourself into a posture that’s just not happening today!
2. Connective Tissue Tears– Occasionally, your joint may take on too heavy of a load, such as your knees in Chair Pose or your elbows and wrists in arm balances.
What to Do: Stop what you were doing immediately before making the injury worse. You may want to take a few days off, but when you do return to your mat, remember to focus on stability rather than stretching; this way you’ll stay within your limits.
3. Repetitive Stress Injuries– Dedicated yogis occasionally experience stress injuries – like tendonitis – from repeatedly doing the same movements.
What to Do: Though you may have a favorite style of yoga, mixing things up and trying not only different yoga classes but also other forms of exercise, is a great way to shift the frequency away from overused body parts.