Can Your Yoga Practice Injure You?


In Yoga Therapy we believe that for every tool there is a time and a place. But most importantly  there is a function over the form, meaning that every technique should be performed intelligently. Remember vinyasa? (Translated as “intelligently placed”).

Everyday in yoga journals, yogi instagrams etc. we see people in different yoga postures or giving a practice for lower back, muscle tone, wight loss and so on and so forth. We start assuming that anyone can teach yoga and anyone can do yoga following some video on YouTube or going to local group classes. In Yoga Therapy we don’t believe in “one fits all” attitude.

So, today I want to share how one and the same pose can either heal or hurt, depending on how you do it.

I see it every day. There are a lot of yoga teachers who come to yoga therapists for help, because they create a drip effect in their bodies as they day after day demonstrate the poses or breathing techniques that destroy their own bodies or immensely disturb their energy and minds. Unfortunately there is a lot of disconnection in this world and many of us just repeat things that we were once taught.

Here you are: there is a picture of me practicing during my Muskoka trip just after finishing my first yoga teacher training many years back. When I look at these pictures I feel so happy I never taught group classes back then. Look at this saluting the sun posture: where is the arch? It’s in lumbar spine, the softest area, where there is already a natural curve. Why would we anticipate going even deeper in this area of the body? Another arch is in the neck. The head is thrown back strongly. When I look at this picture, I literally feel the discs of my neck hurt. The whole pose is so out of balance. Even though it looks very usual and traditional.

In any physical asana we should always come back to Samasthiti principles. The spine is long, balanced. To arch in this pose, I should have brought my hips foreword to engage the whole body, to  arch the whole spine. The neck should be the continuation of the spine, long, the gaze would just follow.

Now imagine, if I would stay with this practice till now, how would my lower back and neck feel? When we are young, it seems like no big deal, but we should learn to connect to our body and acknowledge that not all the movements serve us.

And it’s only one simple usual every day pose. Allow yourself to have some critical mind, use your body intelligence to follow your truth. Be safe and have a gentle practice.

Katerina Khramova