Forget the pain of your yoga mat

This post was written by Tiffany Patterson, Performance Specialist, Parkview Sports Medicine.

Yoga is an ancient practice commonly used to help improve flexibility and strength while promoting better breathing, relaxation, positive thinking, injury prevention, and overall well-being. But like any physical activity, injury and pain can occur if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Some of the most common places we see yoga injuries are the hips, shoulders, elbows, back, hamstrings, neck, and wrists. Often these complications are the result of pushing too hard, too fast, or poor technique.

Prevention of injuries and pain

When learning the practice of yoga, it is important to know your personal limits. If you feel pain in specific poses, decrease the position or range of motion, or stop performing that pose altogether. If a modification helps decrease pain, there’s no shame in making those adjustments to avoid injury. You want to gradually and effectively progress through more difficult or intense yoga poses. Don’t try to do advanced poses if you haven’t mastered even beginner poses.

Breathing is the key to yoga. By focusing on your breath rather than the deepest, most difficult pose, you will reap the benefits of the practice and stay present. There is always time to progress when you are ready. In addition to deep breaths, a yoga wedge can also provide support and improve posture to ensure better form.

Remember, yoga is a mind-body experience, not an invitation to injure yourself by contorting yourself into the most difficult pose possible. Ultimately, your practice should be a fun and relaxing experience. Step on the mat for the benefits, such as increased flexibility and strength, lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, better mood and improved sleep. Listen to your body and modify it accordingly. Namaste.