You are never too young or too old to gain the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Yoga is all about the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit and honoring the grace within you. With that said, you’re not going to feel very healthy if you accidentally injure yourself when practicing it. To help you in doing yoga the right way follow, Zobha Circle of Grace Member and amazing yoga teacher, Mercedes Ngoh’s advice.
How do you prevent injury in a yoga class?
1. Listen to your body
As for my experience with injury and alignment in yoga class, I can share with you something I learned that really changed my teaching as well as my own practice and that was first and foremost to work with your own body’s alignment rather than trying to fit your body into a “universal” alignment. The fact that there is no “universal” skeleton makes “universal” alignment an impossible task and a belief that can lead to injury and unnecessary frustration. Not listening to the maximum edge of resistance of one’s body but rather forcing oneself into a picture perfect image of a pose can not only lead to injury but to a practice void of self-awareness. This lends to the old adage of “use the pose to serve your body not your body to serve the pose”.
2. Don’t try to fit in
A second common thing I often notice that can lead, not only to injury, but to a disconnection from one’s practice is to slip into what I refer to my students as “Watchasana” – the habit of constantly “watching” others and comparing oneself. It is so important to get out of the practice of “watching” to see if a fellow student is doing a pose “better” or looks different and then trying to make one’s own body do what the person next to them is doing so as to not be outdone. This is a sure recipe to eventual injury as everyone’s body “resonates” in the postures differently. Instead, to avoid injury, one needs to keep the focus on their own mat and stay connected and aware of their own practice and keep constantly aware of what their body is telling them.
3. Practice in the now.
A third common mistake I notice is that some people have a tendency to do “yesterday’s practice” rather than practice in the now. In other words, there is a tendency to feel like one has to constantly do better than what they did yesterday (ie: harder poses, deeper backbends, deeper twisting, longer balancing etc) as though if this is not achieved then somehow it is a statement on their yoga practice as a whole. I constantly tell my students that every time they get to the mat it has to be fresh, and they have to check in with themselves and honor the state that they are in today. Not just physical but emotional and mental state. Then once they’ve ascertained where they are, they need to then tailor that day’s practice to match them in their present state. This then allows yoga the opportunity to become a real tool to heal, strengthen, purify and support them, rather than just be a task on their to-do list or daily exercise. If one stays true to practicing in the now rather than just trying to do better than “yesterday’s practice” they can avoid injuring themselves.
Mercedes Ngoh, has been living yoga for over a decade. She is a trained dancer, gymnast and athlete. As her practice deepened, Mercedes took the natural progression into teaching. To learn more about Mercedes, we invite you to visit her website here.