Bad Alignment and Yoga Injuries

Dear Yoga Student,

It’d be great if your back NEVER hurt, if your knees never had twinges, and your shoulders never ached…

… but if you’re actually using your body for yoga or other activities, chances are that sometimes you’ll get sore.

And sometimes, you’ll get injured.

Yoga teachers often blame injuries on bad alignment or “pushing too hard,” but since you’ll never meet any serious yoga student who hasn’t had a least a couple injuries, I just call it “part of life…” to be avoided, whenever possible.

Don’t get me wrong, you should always practice safely, but it’s gotten to the point where some teachers won’t even let you lie on the floor without perfectly supporting your neck and putting fluffy pillows under your legs.

That’s not yoga. That’s therapy. It has its place, but it’s overkill for most able-bodied people the same way it’s overkill to wear a helmet while walking down the street.

A perfect yoga practice doesn’t exist, perfect alignment is a myth (our bodies are naturally imbalanced) and it’s all a process.

So your lower back hurts after yoga class. Maybe you did something wrong. Probably, it was just something that needed to happen for you to better understand your body and become aware.

So what do you do now?

Here are some questions and answers that might help…

Q: How do I know if I’m really injured or just sore?
A: Soreness will go away quickly (in days), injuries will take weeks or months to heal.

NOTE: a solid 80% of true injuries start out as just sore areas that are not looked after properly.

Q: How do I know if I’m too sore to practice?
A: If 15 minutes into class, your sore area is still very painful, you need to take rest, at least with any poses targeting that area for 2-3 days and then try again.

Q: Is Hot Yoga OK if I’m injured?
A: Sometimes. The heat can be very therapeutic, but the flipside is it can mask pain. You might feel awesome in class, then you’ll get home and 1 hour later you’re walking like Quasimodo. If that happens, skip the heat until you’re back to 100%.

Q: My doctor told me to STOP doing yoga until I’m pain-
free… should I?
A: Your doctor’s goal is to stop pain. That’s his job. So yes, if you do nothing, lie flat on a bed, and chill out, the pain will go away the fastest—problem is that when you try to use your body again, you’ll reinjure yourself so quickly it’ll take your breath away.

To heal strong, you’ve got to continue practice, just very slowly and carefully. Hope that helps…

Stay bendy,

The Ultimate Yoga Swing

p.s. If you’ve got a specific injury you need some advice on, please post it below and I’ll see if myself or someone I know can be of help