You’re wondering if yoga is safe for you.
But you’ve done a little research & it’s still not clear.
As soon as you speak with one yoga teacher or one yoga student, the answers seem to vary… even if just a little.
It’s super common to assume all yoga postures are good for you. The accepted (though misguided) thought is … well… yoga is safe just because it’s yoga.
This can be fueled by well-meaning teachers and students who are repeating what they’ve been told by their teachers and stuff that’s been passed around for about 100 years.
It can be cloudy at best.
The truth is — if all things are equal — yoga postures can be good for you… very good for you.
-Practicing with proper technique
-Paying attention to what your body is telling you (and listening)
-Being encouraged to modify postures or skip them altogether
But what if all things aren’t equal?
Take a look at photo A. Notice what’s happening to the low back, neck, and shoulders.
One of the poses I gave up teaching years ago was Upward Facing Dog because the risk-to-benefit ratio was way out of balance.
That is to say… the risks to you are much greater than the benefits to you.
-Low back pain
The benefits (if good technique is being used) include:
-Stronger upper back
-Stronger lower back
Besides, I saw dozens of students struggle with a mental roadblock:
“This is what I’m supposed to do”… vs. “This is what’s right for me”.
It wasn’t their fault. After all, pretty much every yoga teacher, yoga article, yoga DVD, or whatever yoga resource out there shows the execution of a “perfect” upward-facing dog.
In my opinion, the psychological effect is “anything less than what I’m seeing isn’t going to give me the desired results I’m looking for”.
How do you get all of the benefits of upward-facing dog without all of the risk?
The answer may surprise you… take upward-facing dog out of the equation!
Any qualified yoga teacher should be able to find a suitable substitution for you. The key is to understand the intent of the pose and then find a posture that has the same intent -and the same benefits- with less risk.
In this case, I recommend using locust pose instead of upward-facing dog.
Did you notice how the fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders were taken out of the equation?
That removes almost all the risk to your fingers, hands, wrist, etc.
Yet, you still get all of the benefits of the pose ... strong back, core, glutes, and toned legs ... as long as you're engaging everything correctly
I hope the takeaway from this is to give yourself permission to do what is right for you at any time during your yoga practice.
Forget the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” mentality… and don’t worry about what other people will think if you’re not doing exactly what the teacher says.
Believe me, the other students are concentrating on their experience, and -I hope- your teacher is impressed you’re taking care of yourself and truly benefiting from your yoga practice.
Finding a safe way to practice yoga may feel like an impossible task, but … with the correct guidance… it isn’t as hard as it seems.
You've got this!