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Leave the pain off your yoga mat

Last Modified: April 15, 2022

Sports & Exercise


This post was written by Tiffany Patterson, performance specialist, Parkview Sports Medicine.

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

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

Injury and pain prevention

When learning the practice of yoga, it’s important to know your personal limitations. If you experience pain in specific poses, decrease the stance or the range of motion, or stop performing that pose completely. If a modification helps decrease the pain, there’s no shame in making those adjustments to avoid injury. You want to progress into more difficult or intense yoga poses gradually and effectively. Don’t try to do advance poses if you have not even mastered the beginner poses.

Breathwork is key to yoga. Focusing on your breathing rather than achieving the deepest, most challenging pose will help you gain the benefits of the practice and stay present. There’s always time to progress when you’re ready. In addition to deep breaths, a yoga wedge can also provide support and improve posture to ensure better form. 

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

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