Yoga can cause injuries — so be mindful!

Yoga is not without its physical risks.

Yes, I want more people to check out yoga classes. But for yogis to promote yoga as a cure-all and as a way to prevent injuries is irresponsible. Of course I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, but new practitioners should be mindful going into it.

I liked an article (posted below) from theĀ Washington Post that was reprinted in the Dec. 23 edition of the Minneapolis StarTribune. I thought it had a lot of good tips.

Yoga injuries are likely going to come from overuse and overstretching. But I believe that listening to your body is going to be the most important way to prevent injuries. I think a lot of yoga injuries result from people looking at others in a class and trying to do what they’re doing. They forget that the person on the mat next to them may have been practicing yoga for many years. Letting go of ego and letting go of competition will go a long way in keeping yourself healthy on the mat.

Starting yoga

 

In order to write, read. In order to teach, watch.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/grahamking/.

In yoga teacher training we are learning all the things that you would expect you’d learn in a teacher training specific to yoga. We learn poses, how to cater to all levels, how to modify poses, the different styles of yoga, as well as things like energy fields and chakras and essential oils.

But what was the very first thing I encountered in the very first class I taught?

Oh, there’s someone walking in the door! Oh, I’m so excited! Oh, what do I do now?

Obviously they just walked in the door. I knew how to teach poses and cue music. But what was going to set the stage immediately?

Thankfully I had been attending yoga classes as a student for about 17 years. I quickly thought to myself: “What does Mona do when I come into a room? What does Melanie do?” Every teacher I’ve had greeted me with a big smile, welcomed me into the space, called me by my name. So that’s what I did. I introduced myself, welcomed them into the space, shook their hands, asked their names and mentally noted the names for next time.

You learn by doing, of course. But you also learn by observing.

I tell my writing students that the most important thing they need to do to become better writers is not to write, but to read. Read EVERYTHING. Read every day. Read books, magazines, anthologies, web articles. Read fiction, read poetry, read plays. Listen to podcasts, watch vlogs, watch documentaries. The only way to write a good story is to read or listen to good stories. See how the masters have done it. Identify what you love and work on replicating that.

It struck me over this last teacher training weekend is that in order to become a good yoga teacher, you have to watch other good yoga teachers. What do they do, what do they say? How do they create a welcoming space? How do they cultivate the type of energy that you want to be around?

I try to expose myself to as many good yoga teachers as possible. I have my roster of teachers I enjoy in Mankato. When I travel, I like going to yoga studios. I’m always watching and observing the style of the teacher, noting what I like and don’t like.

Is there someone you consider your yoga teacher mentor, whether you are teaching now or whether you hope to teach someday?

5 reasons why I like a morning yoga practice

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Photo Credit: Infomastern Flickr via Compfight cc

Not sure about a 6 a.m. yoga class? I don’t blame you! But that early morning practice can result in better health all day and night:

* The attention to your body lasts all day. When I do a morning practice I stand a little straighter and breathe a little deeper all day. If I go for a walk or run later in the day, I’m more attuned to my muscles and movement. I swear exercise after yoga feels easier…my legs and arms just seem to move more fluidly.

* The mindfulness lasts all day, too. I’m more apt to calmly think through situations and I’m less frazzled or stressed. I remember to breathe more.

* Have you ever woken up stiff and sore? If you haven’t, I’d like to meet you! If you’re of a “certain age,” you know what I mean! Yoga is a great way to work out those kinks.

* You are more likely to go to bed early the night before a morning yoga practice. We all know getting enough sleep is essential to good health, but it’s often something that we forego in our busy lives. I like having the excuse of turning in early. I’m also more likely to eat better and drink plenty of water the night before a morning practice. Not only do I feel healthier the day that I do early morning yoga, but I tend to make healthier decisions the night before, too. And when I get up that early, I’m more than ready for bed later in the night!

* I’m not beyond admitting that it’s great to just get the workout over and done with! There’s something intensely gratifying about getting that workout done before 7 or 8 a.m. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, like I can do anything for the rest of the day. Or if I’m just plain tired by late afternoon, I can rest because I’ve already done my workout!

And if these reasons aren’t enough for you, this article lists 21 reasons for having a morning yoga routine.

If you’re inspired, I’ll see you at Fitness for 10 in Mankato at 6 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays! A great way to start is to commit to just Tuesday or Thursday — one day a week of yoga is better than no days a week!