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Yoga Pain and How to Avoid It

Posted by Nirmala N.

I've always had yoga teachers remind me that if it hurts, you're not doing it correctly. Some people may believe they need to "feel the burn" in order to get any benefits from their yoga workout, but they couldn't be more wrong. A lot of times, injuries from yoga come from what my current teacher calls "overdoing" and "underdoing."Pain and injuries can also arise from having poor alignment during an asana. This is why it's important to pay close attention to instructions, and be very aware of your body and how it feels when you're in the correct position. It's important not to hold a pose too tightly, or else you risk straining muscles. Also, remember to breathe. According to my teacher, there are two discrete kinds of pain--the pain of a tight area being stretched, which is temporary, and the pain that arises when your body is overly straining, which can lead to serious injuries.

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This is very important; yoga is not a competitive sport, with students vying to see who can get further into the pose. It's about going at your own pace and doing only what your body will and can allow. However, if you're like me, you don't know when you're going too far. My chiropractor tells me that I am "hyperflexible" and because of that, I can injure myself without even knowing I've done so. I have to be careful not to overdo it by going far too far into poses. That is not to say that I haven't heard "I should put you on my brochure!" ;) My point is that it is vital to do everything you've described, to listen to your body, and to pose carefully (as I try to), so as to save your body the strain and your chiropractor the extra work!

There is a difference between discomfort and pain. Some students know that. Most do not.

It is no more appropriate (for the growth of the human) to barely move anything at all or to not stretch the hamstrings, then it is to yank the hamstrings powerfully beyond their max thus forcing the pose. Both of these are actions violating yoga's nature. 

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