Can yoga cause harm to your body?
5 the most dangerous yoga poses for self-practice at
Read before you begin the practice
Why did you choose a
yoga lesson instead of a gym or taking other highly intensive bodywork? If you
go for yoga you are probably looking for a stretching, more flexibility, and a
mind-oriented workout. We have a prejudice that yoga is a simple meditation and
an isometric set of exercises which is unable to cause harm our body. Well, if
you are one of these naïve yoga lovers then I have to open your eyes to the
unpleasant fact: injuries can happen in any kind of physical activity and yoga
is not exclusion. Here I will provide you with the insight into 5 the most
dangerous yoga asanas to be careful about when learning yoga on your own but
keep in mind that every pose can be traumatic if rules are not followed.
To begin with,
dangerous does not mean you have to avoid practicing them, it means that improper
alignment during the practice can later lead to the muscles fatigue, strain,
sprain, or even rupture. One important rule to follow is not to push your body beyond its
limits and listen attentively to any signals of pain or discomfort. If
you are on your own together with an online video lesson, try to watch it
before beginning the very practice. Actually, it would be pretty good to read
about every posture before the practice to grasp better which muscles will be
activated and try to palpate them.
Focus on breathing because yoga
is all about correct inhalation and exhalation. Keep in mind that every posture
has certain benefits for your body and the main goal of yoga is not just
staying in one pose for 3 minutes but to concentrate all of your energy and
mind on these benefits. Feel how your body is improving itself, getting
stronger, healthier, and more vigorous.
begin with Standing Forward Band Pose
This asana is practiced
in every kind of yoga. It has an amazing rejuvenating effect because your head
is just under your heart which improves the blood circulation in your brain
thus filling it with oxygen. However, don’t push yourself! Even if you believe
you are flexible, follow the steps smoothly. Here the most possible injury is
an overstretching of the hamstrings and back injury. Important:
AVOID this asana if you have low back pain, hamstring tear, or
You might feel
difficulty in stretching being a beginner, thus bend your knees and be sure you
move the sacrum into the back part of the pelvis; decrease the distance between
your tailbone and the pubis and push the thighs back, trying to stretch the
But, if you are a beginner, don’t lock the knees; otherwise you
do harm both to the lower back and the hamstrings.
Mukha Svanasana – Downward facing dog – the most repetitive yoga pose
Downward facing dog is
a transition pose which is performed for several times during a yoga flow. Sun Salutation sequence is a well-known
practice usually performed in the morning and the Downward Facing Dog is one of
the asanas that helps you to wake up your mind and body while warming up the
muscles. In this posture you stretch the shoulders, arms, hands, hamstrings, and
calves. The major benefit of the pose is that it decreases low back pain, strengthens back, and relaxes stiff neck3.
It expands the chest and increases blood circulation to the brain. If you are
staying in this posture longer than one minute, it stimulates energy levels and
later can improve the functioning of the nervous system.
BUT! ABSOLUTELY AVOID THE POSTURE IF: you have Carpal tunnel
syndrome; pregnancy; or you are recovering from a recent or chronic injury to
the hips, shoulders.4
When practicing, be
sure your hands are width apart and your knees are hip-width apart. Push the
arm firmly into the mat, making sure your knees are behind your sitting bones
to maximize length in the body and spine. When exhale, lift the knees and bring
them in line with ankles. Keep the knees bent and stretch arms to lengthen the body,
feel the pleasant stretch. If you feel that hamstrings are too stiff, remain in
the position with bent knees for some time to prepare the muscles of the spine
and avoid pressure on the lower back.
Descend your heels more when you are engaging quadriceps.
WARNING! If your hamstrings are stiff and you are trying to reach
the floor with the heels, your asana will be all messed up.
We recommend warming up and releasing the tension in
hand-to-big-toe pose to lengthen your
Be careful about distance between the hands to avoid the tension in the neck
now is Ustrasana – Camel Pose
Speaking about therapy applications,
this asana is healing respiratory problems, it is good for backache; it
decreases fatigue, anxiety and is good for menstrual discomfort. However,
taking into account that this posture is from a back bend series, there are
some precautions you need to pay attention to.
Don’t do Camel Pose if you have high or low blood pressure, migraine,
insomnia, or serious low back or neck injury6.
Ustrasana can cause
your neck and back a lot of harm if done without preparatory steps. Begin it
using the wall as a support to protect your neck from too much tension. Make
sure your back is close to the wall, toes turned under and your soles are close
to the wall. Now exhale and lean back while pressing head into the wall and
lift the shoulder blades deep into the back. Keep your hands on the pelvis, and
then slide them to the inner feet. But
don’t push yourself, move slowly and consciously.
If you are beginning
yoga practice you have probably already seen an inversion set of poses and I’m
sure you are falling in love with them. I remember myself practicing the set
for the first time. All students seemed to be so experienced and I felt like it
was so easy to stay on your shoulders, hands, or head. Trust me, it only seems
so! Actually, it took me two years to overcome the fear of breaking my neck,
back, or head when preforming the asana. It took me two years to be ready both
mentally and physically to do it.
advice: don’t try to perform inversion asana being a
beginner and for God’s sake don’t try it without taking a private class with an
experienced yoga teacher!
Do it in the end of the
practice to relax the body. By inverting the body, your heart and arteries
mechanisms are activated and stimulated thus adjusting blood pressure. In
addition, the flow of spinal fluid is activated in the spinal cord and the
nourishes the cells and calms down the breath by maximizing the exchange of
oxygen. By the way, it also regulates metabolism.
BUT! In this pose, your neck can be easily injured if
you don’t put blankets only under the shoulders and be sure that your head and
neck are on the bare floor.
avoid if you have
High Blood Pressure or heart ailments, suffering from cervical spondylitis; make sure you don’t have Glaucoma because
there is extreme pressure on eyes8.
Here is important to
engage the whole body, legs should be vertical, together and in a STRAIGHT line with the trunk.
Finally, I would like to finish the article with an
asana from the standing set.
Side Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana
This posture has been
the most challenging and the most fascinating for me when I was a beginner. It
is an amazing pose for strengthening the legs, stretching the groin, and
stimulating digestion. Although this pose is believed to be a beginner one,
there is a danger of putting too much pressure on the hips if not balancing the
weight; moreover, in case the front knee comes past the ankle the knee is also
If your hips are not flexible yet, the front knee is collapsing towards the
inside which can strain the knee joint. Make
sure your toes and the knees are in one direction. If the knee is over the
ankle, take a wider step and create a space for the asana10.
Being a beginner you
will probably lean a bit too much on the hand that you put on the bent leg or
on a block – be sure your weight is on the legs, you have to feel the stretch. Remember, you are a one straight
line with your hips, legs, chest and
shoulder in one line. This posture can be great for people with hip
dysplasia since it strengthens the legs and hip muscles but if it is performed
incorrectly, too much pressure on one of the hip bones can make the deformation
of the hip joint even worse.
I chose these poses
because I believe they are the most commonly practiced in the beginning of a
learning path and if you pushing too hard, creating a misalignment, you won’t
escape injury. I hope you will read the article before beginning the practice.
You have to understand that Yoga is not only a physical activity, it is a
mental one. Yoga can be both a remedy and a reason for your pain. Therefore, if
you have decided to practice it, I’m encouraging you to continue this journey
full of amazing discoveries. However, if you are beginning it at home, being on
your own, then you need to be 100%
present and focused both mindfully and physically.
Concentrate on the connection
between all tissues, tendons, muscles, bones, veins, arteries. Read
all the precautions and if you feel any discomfort, stop for a minute, breathe
and try to understand what went wrong. You need to feel your body and listen to
its signals. You need to prepare your muscles slowly and subtly to avoid
overstrain and tension. Therefore, before you begin practice make sure your
muscles are relaxed which can be achieved by massaging them with a foam roller
or a tennis ball. Message is strongly recommended before and after workout to
get the full benefit of yoga.
Finally, Stretch, Strengthen,
and Relax consciously without pushing your body beyond its possibilities. I am
wishing you good luck in your practice, in the journey of self-discovery of
your mental and physical abilities.
Journal, “Standing Forward Bend,” retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/standing-forward-bend,
(22, January, 2017).
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3 Modestini E., and N. Doane, “4 Steps to Master Adho Mukha Svanasana,” in
Yoga Journal, retrieved from
4 Modestini E., and N. Doane, “4 Steps to Master Adho Mukha Svanasana,” in
Yoga Journal, retrieved from
5 Modestini E., and N. Doane, “4 Steps to Master Adho Mukha Svanasana,” in
Yoga Journal, retrieved from
Yoga Journal, “Camel Pose,” in Yoga Journal, retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/camel-pose, (22 January, 2017).
Long Ray, “Inversions,” in The Key Poses
of Yoga, p. 1842.
Yoga Journal, “Supported Shoulderstand,”in
Yoga Journal, retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/supported-shoulderstand,
(22, January, 2018).
Yoga Journal, “Extended Side Angle Pose,” in Yoga Journal, retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/extended-side-angle-pose
, (22, January, 2018).
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https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/extended-side-angle-pose , (22, January,