Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Yes, they can happen. Even thus I tell my students to bend, stretch and even breathe less, and I follow this advice too, it can happen that you overstretch or bend and hurt yourself. Yoga injuries are part of yoga practice and at one stage in your life, you might get one (hopefully nothing too serious). Saying that it does not necessarily have to come from your yoga practice but may relate to other issues in your lifestyle that you are not conscious about. A physical yoga practice might be just the tipping point for that part of your body.
How to practice yoga with an injury?
If you come to my classes, you will have heard me saying "Bend less, stretch less and enjoy more". I heard this in a workshop I attended by Simon Borg Olivier. So far all good, but what if you do get or have an injury? What I have noticed in many years teaching is that often people who come with injuries are trying to protect that part so much that they end up overtaxing other parts of their body. By over-protecting some part, you may end up hurting another part of the body.
Yoga is consciousness all around and we learn to be aware of the whole body so that we can release unnecessary tension in parts of the body that are not required to produce a certain movement or contraction. For example, sitting on your feet can produce your shoulders to be tense, be aware and release the shoulders, they have nothing to protect or be responsible about.
Also, a muscle that is contracted needs to be able to fully release. Often, we carry so much tension with us, that we find the release impossible.
The first thing I would advise somebody who comes to a class with an injury or a condition to go and see a GP and check with the GP what exercise is ok to do and what exercise is NOT ok. Please be aware that certain conditions require modifications and some postures in yoga could be contraindicative. Always let your teacher know about your condition, but do not expect the teacher to be a doctor. Make sure the teacher has the experience and has done a good teacher training, be open and listen to the suggested modifications, but take responsibility and listen to your own body.
If any of the major joints are affected (ankles, knees, hips, lower back, spine, shoulders, elbows, neck and wrists) the teacher should give you tips of how to co-activate around those joints so that it is protected.
Observe yourself in everyday life. How do you move, how do you carry bags, how do you carry yourself, how do you tense when you come into an uncomfortable situation, where do you tense and what happens to your body?
Don´t let an injury frustrate you, so what if you have to slow down a little bit? Nurture yourself, learn about yourself, be more compassionate and you will see how you heal and overall become a mentor for all those after you with the same injury.
A very good idea is to go to workshops, retreats and learn more about your body. Yoga is a beautiful art of moving in space, but it assumes healthy and flexible/strong bodies to encourage the movement of energy throughout the body.
A "yoga" injury can be a good lesson to tune better into yourself and learn about your body and mind. If you want to learn about how to modify and how to use blocks, straps, chairs, walls to help you to come safer into a given posture, join me on a workshop soon.