We’re all aware that yoga isn’t supposed to cause pain or injury, but to keep us healthy, balanced, and at peace. Injury happens when we unintentionally push ourselves too far, going beyond what feels blissful and overstretching ligaments and tendons, making us less stable. Likewise, yoga students, especially in the beginning of their spiritual journey, may have trouble achieving certain poses. And if done incorrectly, they can cause more harm than good. Simply put, Greatist says to teach your students that “as with any physical activity, the safest approach to yoga is to learn how to practice the poses correctly and stay in tune with your body to avoid overdoing it.” So, what can you suggest as their guide, or which poses should you limit (or even avoid) when teaching?
Twist Yoga Poses
The Revolved Side Angle Pose (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana), Marichi’s Pose (Marichyasana III), and Noose Pose (Pasasana) are just a few yoga twists that, if done incorrectly, can move beyond the spine’s natural structure and result in a torn ligament, pinched nerve, or herniated disc. What should your students do to avoid these injuries? Twist to feel a stretch without going past that. Also: bend the knees to prevent any lumbar compression and engage the abdominal area to help stabilize the pelvis.
Squat Yoga Poses
The Garland Pose (Malasana), or the squat, can boost posture, stretch back muscles, tone the lower body, and even improve digestive function when done correctly. The challenge is dropping down while bending forward. If your students are having trouble staying grounded as they extend, suggest propping a blanket behind both knees (between their calves and thighs) to decrease the amount of flexion.
Headstand Yoga Poses
The Headstand Pose (Sirsasana) is a main suspect in pain and injury as it places pressure on the cervical vertebrae, resulting in joint issues. Instead, encourage your students to utilize props that elevate their neck away from the floor. You can also suggest drawing down their shoulder blades to safely support their body.
Backbend Yoga Poses
The One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) and Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana) are yoga backbends that can work wonders in building strength and mobility in the spine. Students who have trouble with them should go slow to find a proper balance. And to prevent any injury, encourage them to rotate their thighs inward and engage their core while going into a pose.
Yoga can be a great tool to explore balance and achieve overall well-being. It’s a mind-body practice that gives us functional mobility when done right. All that’s needed is a few props and hints that we’re going too far. As a yoga instructor, do you deal with other poses that are somewhat popular for causing pain or injury? Please share them in the comment section below!
Allison Barfield is a content writer for Span Enterprises and has been writing since she first learned to hold a pencil, shortly after birth. After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 2013 with a B.A. in media arts she fell in love with marketing. She's been copy writing and managing multiple blogs ever since.