I have an injury. Can I still do yoga?

The short answer to this frequently asked question is YES. Yoga is suitable for everyone and can be a great way to ease back into physical activity when you’re injured. The longer answer is that not every class or every pose will be appropriate for you.
Here are five valuable lessons I learned practising yoga while nursing broken bones and muscular strains, and teaching students with various injuries and limitations:

1. Choose the right class

Yoga has the potential to assist in reducing inflammation and managing chronic pain but choosing the right class is vital. Don’t just choose a class based on the time. Look. No, really, LOOK at the style of class, level and teacher to find the right class for you.

Personally, I am more likely to injure myself or exacerbate an existing injury during powerful, fast-paced vinyasa class. The flow doesn’t give me enough time to align my body; I’m just settling into Downward Facing Dog but the rest of the class has already moved on….  “Waaaaaait!!!” I plead silently.
Too often the Vinyasa practice is a playground for a teacher’s creative expression without much focus on the alignment and linking of the poses. The practice becomes more about giving a cool and challenging class than making sure students are, first and foremost, safe in their bodies – Brittany Policastro
Hot yoga is another style to be wary of when managing an injury. Granted, the heat will increase your flexibility but, if you practise persistently at the end of your range of motion without adequate strength and stability, you may exacerbate your injury.
This is the time to dial back the intensity and really focus on alignment. A slower-paced class will give you the time you need to accommodate physical limitations and find the right alignment for your body. But don’t be fooled into thinking slow is easy; these classes will still help build strength and mobility.

When it comes to recovery, don’t forget about the importance of rest. Whenever animals in the wild are wounded, they rest. They look for a quiet place and stay there, without moving, eating or drinking for many days. They know it’s the best way for their body to heal. The wisdom of stopping and healing is still alive in the animal kingdom, but we have lost the capacity to rest and relax. Using props to support the body, Restorative Yoga is an opportunity for you to rest, heal and be restored. This is a practice we can ALL benefit from.

2. Tell your teacher

I cannot stress this enough. Whether it happened last month or last year, please let your teacher know before class if you are pregnant, injured, have recently undergone surgery or have any medical conditions. We want to help you practise safely but we can’t read your mind!

3. Listen to your body

You’ve heard it said but what exactly does it mean?

The more you attune to sensation, the more you explore what is going on in your body, the better able you are to discern what feels wise for YOU at any given moment. Nobody knows your body like you do so give yourself permission to move within a range of motion that feels appropriate for you…not the person next to you. If you are receptive, the body will suggest subtle shifts that can bring about better alignment, greater ease.

If any part of your body is protesting or you experience pain, sharp or shooting sensations, tingling or numbness, back off or come out of the pose. Trust your instincts and listen to your body’s ‘no’. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!

4. Be patient

It may take some time to regain your full range of motion and, in the meantime, it’s likely there will be poses you can’t do. This can be a frustrating (and humbling experience) so be kind to yourself.

5. Take advantage of available props (or bring your own)

Props are not a sign of weakness but part of an intelligent practice. Discover how and why props can help you practise with an injury.
Whether it’s a pain in the butt or a pain in the neck, pain and discomfort can suck the joy right out of life. The truth is, your body knows what it needs to heal. Your job is to create the environment so that you are working in harmony with, rather than against nature: Plant the seeds so health and vitality can blossom.

Don’t forget that yoga is just one type of movement. There are plenty of other activities that can assist with prevention, management and rehabilitation of new or old injuries.

We want to help you get back to doing the things you love, which is why we created The Reset & Recovery Package.

Designed to help your mind and body heal and recover from injury or childbirth, this package will:

  • help reduce pain and discomfort
  • enhance your posture
  • make daily activities easier to accomplish
  • increase your range of movement
  • improve flexibility and fitness.

Get in touch to discover how you can get back to doing the things you love sooner!

– Georgina –


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