The likelihood that you practice yoga at home is pretty high. And the likelihood of a yoga-related injury is pretty low. However, accidents do happen and in order to prevent injuries, it’s important to understand how and where they happen. Below we dissect why a home yoga practice may make you slightly more susceptible to injury.
After hearing from over ten thousand people in a recent DOYOUYOGA survey, we found that 85% of yogis have a home practice. Four out of five of those home-practicing yogis use streaming services, TV, or the internet.
While that’s very convenient and less-costly (the top two reasons that people practice yoga at home), using virtual mechanisms to practice may overlook key components of yoga, which put your body at risk. Is the tradeoff for privacy, convenience, and low-cost worth the risk of potential injury?
The good news is that an astonishing 80% of yogis (from our sample) have never experienced an injury from yoga. But this number also tell us that injury does happen, even if seldom. Most people that reported a yoga-related injury experienced a shoulder injury. This isn’t surprising given that the shoulder is the most mobile and least stable joint in the body, making it quite susceptible to injury.
And it so happens that our shoulders are heavily utilized in yoga—can you imagine doing a Sun Salutation without your shoulders?
There are several reasons a home practice could lead to a higher propensity for injury. First, ensuring proper body alignment helps prevent injury, but it can be difficult to correct your own posture. By default, most yoga instructors agree that practicing at home takes out the individualized instructions that are supplied to the student in a studio or in-person setting.
With an instructor unable to see the student via virtual practice, the student inherently misses out on specific alignment cues making poses less safe.
Use Your Resources
Additionally, proneness to injury can be related back to many factors such as existing health condition and the yogi’s approach to yoga. Despite where you practice yoga, everyone has their own history that contributes to vulnerability to injury.
Having a present and certified instructor that can assess your physical background before practice will help prevent recurring injuries from flaring up. In addition, the lack of personalized guidance in virtual classes eliminates the chance for specifically recommended props and modifications that may be supportive for certain conditions.
Understand and Honor Limits
Another area where a live instructor can help prevent injury is with your approach to the practice. In yoga, we strive for a balance between effort and ease. Yet sometimes we teeter beyond those limits and push ourselves over the edge of possibility.
An in-person yoga instructor can oftentimes recognize if you’re stretching too far or attempting that arm balance you weren’t quite ready for and coax us back a bit. This can prevent tweaking a muscle or joint which in turn could set practice back farther and impose an impatient wait to return to the mat.
Yoga injuries can happen to anyone at any place, but the benefits of yoga far outnumber the potential risks. A home yoga practice can be delightful but without the proper foundation, attention, attitude, or approach, it could prove to be less safe.
Just remember that yoga is not about the pose. Poses can be alluring and make the ego in all of us want to jump into the picturesque stance. Instead, focus on the uniquely satisfying process, requiring us to work diligently towards something...and often offering and teaching something internally along the way. Practice safely, go at your own pace, and be mindful of your body.
Image credit: Loren Peta