My friend told me that she had injured her lower back at a yoga retreat. As she had been feeling pain whenever she does the forward bend, she had gone for a medical check-up and the doctor had informed her that she had a tear (muscle sprain) in her back muscle as she had overstrained herself.
Yoga has many benefits and is a great form of exercise but like any other exercises, if not done properly, it can also lead to injuries. You can reduce the risk of injury from yoga if you practice the following:-
Injury normally happens to yogis who have an attitude of competition and wanting to show off. Trying to do a challenging pose when you are not strong or flexible enough will only increase your risk to injury. Always remember that yoga should be practiced with patience, surrender, acceptance and awareness.
Know your limitations. It's better to practice a partial pose with good alignment than to push it into a full pose with poor alignment and face the risk of possible injury. Performing certain poses incorrectly year over year can create permanent damage.
If you have any existing physical problems or previous injuries, tell the teacher before the start of the class so that he or she can provide you with any modifications or alternatives to the poses.
Listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain or exhaustion, stop or take a break. Danger signals include exaggerated breathing or having to open your mouth to breath, shaking beyond control and collapsing in the pose.
When yogis forget that two-thirds of the practice is going in and coming out of poses with control, they risk tweaking or creating new injuries. When you are ready to come out of a pose, always come down mindfully and with full control.
The most common injuries which occurred during yoga are caused by repetitive strain or over stretching and occur at the wrist, shoulder, neck, along the spine, hamstrings, knees and at the sacroiliac joint.
Types of Yoga Injuries
Neck: Poses like "plow," "shoulder stand" and "headstand" can be risky, because if done improperly they can put undue pressure on the neck. Beginners should try these poses only under the close supervision of an experienced teacher.
Wrists: If your wrists are strained or you have carpal tunnel syndrome, asanas such as Plank pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward Dog pose and Downward Dog pose will cause you pain and further injury. There are variations for these common poses which involve the wrist such as doing the Downward Dog with the forearms on the floor and Upward Dog done on fists instead of open palms eliminates the extension of the wrist, which can often lead to wrist pain.
Knees: Don't force your knees into Lotus or other vulnerable positions. Without adequate hip-joint flexibility you could tear a meniscus (cartilage) or you could stretch or tear one of the knee ligaments.
Lower Back: Forward and backward bends and twists, if done incorrectly, can result in back damage. Listen carefully to instructions and bend your knees to take pressure off the lower back.
Inversion Poses: Inversion poses like shoulder stand and headstand put the head lower than the heart and raise blood pressure. Refrain from these poses if you have cardiovascular problems, hypertension, diabetes or glaucoma.
Click here to read the article “Insight From Injury” from Yoga Journal.