Yoga is known for its numerous mind-body benefits: it clears tension, may prevent injury, adds strength and balance, develops more flexibility, and calms the mind. So, it is not surprising that yoga practice among American adults increased by 50 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, can you do too much yoga? It depends on how intense the yoga you are doing is physically for your body and how quick your recovery is. For example, teenagers recover much faster than the elderly. You will need to listen to your body and joints. Too much yoga has the potential to cause injury to your body.
Try to take at least one day off a week to give your body time to heal. And remember, if you aren’t taking a day off from your yoga practice, you aren’t allowing your body to rest and maintain a sustainable yoga practice for the long run.
Read on to find out how to choose the suitable yoga for you and stay injury-free, and the top 6 safe yoga poses for your back.
See also: How To Get Good at Yoga Faster?
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Is Yoga Dangerous?
Yoga is among the most commonly used non-mainstream health approaches among U.S. adults, with 9.5 percent of adults practicing yoga in 2012 and 14.3 percent practicing in 2017.
What you may not be aware of if you are a beginner to yoga is that despite its reputation as a gentle, low-impact practice, practicing yoga carries risks, as with any exercise routine. Practicing may exacerbate carpal tunnel syndrome, destabilize joints, and contribute to strains, sprains, and tendinitis.
There were about 30,000 yoga-related injuries observed in emergency rooms from 2001 to 2014, and injuries per 100,000 practitioners grew from 9.6 percent to 17 percent, according to a study issued in 2016 in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
Most injuries occurred to the upper body and constituted strains and sprains. The most significant injury increase was in people aged 65 and older.
Individuals over 65 years and older have a greater rate of injury from practicing yoga when compared with other age groups, according to a 2016 study.
Researchers also concluded that if you wish to practice yoga, discuss it with a physician before engaging in physical exercise and practice only under the guidance of certified instructors.
Can You Do Too Much Yoga?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question because everybody is different, and we are all different. Do whatever makes you feel good and comfortable. The journey of progress in yoga is just as fun and rewarding as the end result.
Yoga is more like active recovery. It’s low impact, so you can do it every day. Feel free to do yoga and lift weights on the same day. It will cause interference and will probably be complimentary.
However, when it comes to practicing too much yoga, yoga usually doesn’t cause injury but can intensify it, according to experts. For example, if you are a person with arthritis, you will need to be extra cautious when it comes to practicing yoga because arthritic joints “can flare up throughout yoga and result in a week to 10 days of pain.
If you have arthritis, consider a gentler form of practicing yoga or avoid overloading arthritic joints to prevent further inflammation.
And if you have osteoporosis, try to avoid forward bends and twists. Always discuss with your doctor before practicing if you have medical conditions.
Always discuss with a physician if you have an existing health condition.
Choose The Right Yoga For You
Many people start physical activity and then overdo it with newfound zeal to the point of injury, seldom forcing them to give up the thing they love. To minimize your risk of injuries from practicing yoga, consider the following tips:
- Try going to a beginner workshop at a local yoga studio. Doing this will ensure that you are doing all the poses correctly to take full advantage of your yoga practice.
- If you are new to yoga or have injuries and other conditions, be careful about choosing a class and teacher, as not all yoga is created equally.
- If you are a total beginner to yoga, try to invest in a few private lessons with an experienced yoga teacher to find out what your body needs and what kind of yoga class is appropriate.
- If you have restrictions in your joints, you should not do power yoga or flow; instead, you should practice a restorative yoga class or Iyengar, a type of yoga that emphasizes support and alignment. It is normal to be sore initially; however, you shouldn’t be constantly sore after a month.
- Try to take one day off a week to give your body time to heal. Remember that everybody is different, so you have to listen to your body. If you are overdoing your yoga practice either in frequency or in intensity, or possibly both, your body will send you messages of pain.
- If the pain persists, see a doctor, ideally a sports doctor. You might be pushing too hard or may need glucosamine or a shift in your diet for more joint lubrication.
How To Stay Injury-Free With Yoga?
Experts agree that to get the benefits without the injuries, you need to listen to your body after finding the right type of yoga.
Be honest about your goals for practicing yoga, develop self-awareness, and listen to your body. And if you listen to your body and don’t overdo it, then you will stay injury-free.
If you are doing this every day, make sure to give yourself a non-yoga day, choose one day out of the week, and commit to not doing yoga that day as a way for your body and mind to be without having to do physical yoga.
Daily yoga practice is an improver; however, try not to do the same practice every day.
Can Yoga Be Bad For Your Back?
Individuals who are new to yoga and older adults are especially inclined to develop a yoga-related back injury because most injuries resulting from yoga result from improper form and moving too quickly when stretching. The key is to gently ease and lengthen into poses rather than simply dropping into them.
Start by setting a foundation and the proper way of doing yoga poses. Also, begin your yoga practice with stretches.
Top 6 Safe Yoga Poses For Your Back
Yoga is known to be a low-impact activity, but the key is to find the right poses based on your needs. Here are the best 6 safe yoga poses for your back.
1- Child’s Pose
The child’s pose stretches and aligns the spine, decompresses it, and removes the pressure to provide a good stretch.
How to properly do Child’s Pose:
- Kneel on your mat while keeping your knees hip-width apart with your feet together behind you.
- Breathe in profoundly, and settle your torso over your thighs as you breathe out.
- Move your ribs away from your tailbone to lengthen your neck and spine.
- Then hold your forehead on the ground while stretching your arms out in front of you.
- Hold this posture for 2-3 minutes.
2- Downward Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog is an excellent pose for stretching out your hamstrings and calves, which can relieve lower back pain.
How to properly do Downward Facing Dog:
- Start in the child’s pose by keeping your hands on the floor, sitting up on your knees, lifting your buttocks, and pressing back into the downward-facing dog pose.
- Spread your fingers wide and align your legs while slowly dropping your heels down toward the floor.
- Let your head relax between your arms
- Hold this pose for 2-3 minutes.
3- Locust Pose
The locust pose will help strengthen your back and core muscles. It has the lowest risk of injury of any backbend yoga posture.
How to properly do Locust Pose:
- Start by resting flat on your stomach and twisting your fingers above your sacrum at the end of your spine.
- Straighten your legs and engage them by raising them off the floor along with your chest.
- Squeeze your belly button into the mat and look straight in front of you to keep your neck curved naturally.
- Move your shoulder blades together, carrying them away from your ears.
- Do not squeeze your butt too tight, as this will prevent the pose from strengthening your core muscles.
4- Upward Facing Dog
Upward facing dog is a fundamental yoga poses to expand the chest and open the lungs to strengthen the muscles in your arms, spine, and shoulders.
How To Properly Do Upward-Facing Dog:
- Start on your stomach and put your palms on either side of your chest.
- Push evenly throughout each finger and your palm.
- Your shoulders should be straight above your wrists.
- Elevate your body so that only your palms and the tops of your feet remain on the mat.
- Ensure that you engage your legs as much as possible to avoid compressing your lumbar spine.
- Maintain your shoulder blades together so that your chest will remain open.
- Try to relax your buttocks and engage your thighs.
5- Floor Bow
The floor bow pose opens your chest and stretches the front of your body. It can help in alleviating minor back pain while at the same time improving your posture and strengthening your back muscles.
How to Properly do Floor Bow:
- Start on your stomach and grip the outside of each ankle.
- Kick out your legs and elevate your hands while gently lengthening your chest toward the ceiling.
- Then bring your knees and feet toward each other till they are hip-distance apart, and bring your ankles in, keeping your feet engaged.
- Do not spread your legs too far apart, as it may cause compression of your lower back.
6- Cow Pose
The cow pose extends the spine, promotes mobility, and relieves tension in the lower back.
How to Properly do Cow Pose:
- Start this posture on all fours; keep your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
- Gently inhale, and while exhaling, round your spine and move your head down toward the floor.
- Inhale again and elevate your head, chest, and tailbone toward the ceiling while bending your back.
- Hold this posture for 2-3 minutes.
How to protect your back While Doing Yoga?
People usually get injured with yoga when they don’t follow proper form and speed, and they quickly “drop” into a yoga posture without gradually “lengthening” into it, according to Dr. Lauren Elson, medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report An Introduction to Yoga.
- Avoid bending and stretching at the same time. It can compress intervertebral joints.
- Rely on props such as bolsters and blocks for additional support when you need them.
- If you can’t touch your feet, hold a yoga belt in your hands and circle it around your toes.
- Do forward bends while sitting rather than standing, and strengthen your belly as you return upright.
- Always ask for help from your yoga teacher, and stop any uncomfortable moves.
Even though practicing yoga is generally a regenerative and relaxing activity, you will need to ensure you are using good form and engaging your body correctly to avoid causing a back injury.
If you are new to yoga, an older person, or have any medical conditions, I would recommend that you speak with your doctor before practicing yoga and invest in private yoga lessons with an experienced yoga teacher.
Remember to take the necessary steps to avoid risky yoga poses and get the most out of your yoga practice.