Yoga injuries & how to avoid them in Sun Salutations
Injuries from yoga are, sadly, relatively common among beginners. Often, the repetitive nature of Sun Salutations combined with an over-enthusiastic practice can cause injury to the wrists, shoulders, back and neck.
Since their introduction to mainstream yoga classes in the 1930s, researchers have delved into the effects of Sun Salutations on the body and mind.
One study concluded that the “sun salutation can be an ideal exercise to keep oneself in optimum level of fitness”.
However, they have also discovered that, although yoga is safer than many other forms of exercise, adverse physical effects were associated with “yoga self-study without supervision”.
In the age of on-demand yoga and home practice, arm yourself with these proven techniques to avoid injury from Sun Salutations.
A surprising culprit
Without a doubt, the greatest cause of injury is the ego. Well, at least in my experience it is!
Beginners are more likely to ignore warning signs and push their bodies beyond what they are capable of achieving safely.
Remember, yoga is not a competition and there is nothing to prove.
Most importantly, start slowly and choose a variation that works for your body in each given moment.
A good yoga teacher will always offer modifications of poses and suggest ways to use props to help you to move your body with more grace and ease.
Flowing into danger
The very nature of the Sun Salutation encourages you to flow from pose to pose. In fact, it is sometimes hard to see where one pose ends and the next begins.
While the fluid nature of the Sun Salutation is one of its main attractions, it is also one of its biggest dangers.
Take care when lowering through Chaturanga not to get sloppy with your movements. Keep the shoulder blades on the back, elbows in and the entire body in one straight line.
So, if you notice your technique getting sloppy take a break or switch to a safer alternative such lowering through knees-chest-chin pose or simply taking a cat-cow pose instead.
With all this talk of injury, you might be wondering what’s the point of including Sun Salutations in your yoga practice. I’m glad you asked!
Firstly, the sequence of poses in a Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) effectively warm up the whole body. During this warm up, Sun Salutations soften muscles, lubricate joints, stimulate neurological, circulatory and energetic systems, and synchronise the body, mind and breath. In short, they are a dynamic form of meditation that keeps you strong and supple.
Practise like a pro with me in my Sun Salutations for Beginners video on YouTube for tried-and-tested techniques to help you feel confident and safe on your yoga mat.
Have you had any injuries from Sun Salutations? Or do you have a top tips to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on the socials!
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Wishing you less stress and more yoga!
PS Check out my online and in-person workshop ‘All about Sun Salutations’ on Saturday 18th March 2023!