Recently, a large-scale comprehensive research of yoga injuries was completed at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. A database provided by National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) included almost 30,000 records of registered injuries sustained in the course of yoga practice in the USA between 2001 to 2014. Age and injury types were the focus of the study. It should be mentioned that at the present moment in the USA there are about 36 million people practicing yoga, 80% of which are women.
Overall, average rate of injury dynamics showed growth from 9.55 to 17.01 cases per 100,000 people practicing yoga. It should be noted that these figures are approximately equal for men and women. The research identified three specific age categories in which the average level of injuries were detected. In 2014, these figures are as follows: 18-44 years — 11.9 cases per 100,000 people; 45-64 years — 17.7 cases; over 65 years — 57.9 cases. As to the nature of the injuries, their most injuries are related to the trunk — 46.6% and lower extremities – 21.9%. In addition, strain/sprain was the most common diagnosis – 45.0%.
True Yoga Teachers
The main inference made by the researchers is that the injury level has significantly grown, especially in the case of senior people. Why? The thing is that in these days unprecedented growth of yoga popularity results in more and more often unskilled people coming to studios. Moreover, among them are both students and teachers.
With respect to teachers, we hope that this research will make an issue of developing national certification standards for yoga teachers more acute. The teacher must have excellent knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and psychology, but ideally — to get medical education. However, first of all, he/she must be a teacher and to see their students as human beings and not as a monthly fee.
And we strongly recommend all those practicing yoga, and especially starters and senior people, to take care as to yoga and yourself. Yoga is not just a set of positions for an hour and a half. Yoga is not sport, nor competition, and it is not for photos on Instagram. Yoga is a system of comprehensive rehabilitation – recovery of physical, mental, and spiritual health. It has great power, and a negligent attitude to it can inflict significant damage.
- If you are a starter — you should not practice yoga individually. Go to a studio.
- Choose a studio, teacher, and yoga style carefully. If you are over 45 or you have health problems — consult a doctor. There are a lot of various adapted styles: Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Chair Yoga, Vini Yoga;
- Listen attentively to the teacher and follow his/her instructions. Be even more attentive to your feelings. Be mindful in each asana.
- Increase your level gradually, do not strive for results. It is better to make a simple asana correctly than a difficult one incorrectly.
- Do not ignore the assistance of props — they are intended for this purpose.
- Rest Savasana after each practice.
- Practice safely!
Alex Kuzmint is a devoted yoga practitioner, writer and editor at Bahiranga.com. “I clearly remember my feelings after my first yoga class. I went out and walked as usual. A weird mixture of fatigue, lightness, and warmth in my body… and some stretching, as if all my body strings started to sound in a new way. Crystal awareness was in my head. I perceived the external world in the right here and now – everything at the same time. But its contradictions couldn’t touch me. They couldn’t mar the clarity and integrity of my consciousness. Soon I realized that I had fallen in love.”