Making yoga work for (not against) you

Making yoga work for (not against) you

by Natalie L 15 Apr 2019

“Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements.” 

-Amit Ray

 

Yoga involves very fine and delicate movements but still manages to work the body's muscles. Due to its low intensity and contact with others, people generally think that it bears a very low risk of severe self-injury. Nevertheless, over-stretching can still happen with improper practice and can result in minor to severe injuries. Yet, avoidance is uncalled for as such injuries can be easily prevented with the following simple steps. 

 

Warm up and cool down 

This piece of advice is general knowledge and universal to all kinds of physical activities. When ignored, the risk of overstretching your muscles (especially your hamstrings and back muscles) increases exponentially. The general rule of thumb is to stretch to only 50% of your maximum capacity in the first half of your yoga workout and progressively move to 75% towards the latter half of the session. This can enable your muscles to gradually acclimatise to the intensity of stretching during your workout. Skipping this step is akin to throwing yourself into the deep end of the pool before learning how to float; it is dangerous and flat-out unwise. 

 

Pay attention to common trouble spots

For most, this happens to be the muscles located in the hamstrings and lower back. This does not mean that you should abstain from poses that focus on these areas. Rather, be very conscious of how move and don't be afraid to ease into them if you happen to be feeling rather tight during that particular session. If you encounter pain or restrictions in mobility, don't force your way past them. Pain and restrictive tension are sometimes tools that the body employs to protect itself, so it's best to obey those signs when they pop up.

 

Mindfulness

After practising yoga for a long time, people might become overconfident and lose sight of the goal of yoga, which is to instil mindfulness. They might try to push their bodies as much as possible but end up over-stretching their muscles. It is thus always important to listen to your body and focus on the connection between your mind and body while practising yoga. Yoga is not a sport, but rather a lifestyle practice. Never forget the real value behind it, for this will keep you on the right track and help to prevent injuries that are otherwise completely avoidable!

 

Yoga is a somewhat contrdictory activity: it is relatively easy to pick up but hard to master. However, as Amit Ray said, "once you understand the grammar of yoga, you can write your poetry of movements." Just like learning a new language, fluency in yoga will take time. Try not to rush it but enjoy the process instead!

 

References

https://www.wellandgood.com/good-sweat/over-stretching-yoga-pilates/