Keep your yoga practice injury free with the following tips:
1. Focus on yourself.
Yoga is a an individual process and it requires practice to get better. Start slow and focus on your own ability. Avoid comparing yourself to others in the class or friends and family. Do some research on the types of yoga and different classes being offered to find the right class for you.
2. Not all instructors are created equal.
Make sure you are attending a class taught by a qualified instructor. If you have any injuries let the instructor know so they can modify things for you.
3. Know your limits.
Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself. Learn how to do the poses with proper technique and uses props as needed. Props such as blankets, straps, pillows and blocks can provide support to the joints while allowing you to keep proper form. If you feel pain back off a bit. If you cannot do a pose with proper technique then skip that pose.
4. Avoid over reaching or over extending.
Some yoga poses can put excess stress on the muscles and joints. Tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to injury if they are over stretched. Certain poses like back bends and spinal twists in particular, can put additional stress on the spine. Use caution when performing these types of poses.
5. Strength is just as important as Flexibility
Most people think that yoga just requires flexibility. However, strength and stability are just as important. Remember to engage your muscles, especially your abdominal or "core" muscles to ensure you are maintaining proper position in a pose.
6. Slow and steady is best
Make sure to warm up before you start your practice and move into poses gradually. Start with simple poses and work up to performing more advanced poses. Think about moving slowly when coming out of a pose as well, especially if you have been holding them for a long time.