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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Yoga » Article

How to Prevent Yoga Injuries

By Susi Hately Aldous

[the illustrations for these exercises can be found on the website at the end of this article)


Yoga injuries is a common concern for many people, especially in the area of back bends.

To prevent jamming and to ensure smooth and easy movement, follow the eight major principles of movement:

1. Nourish relaxation by breathing and connecting.
2. Initiate movement at the spine.
3. Connect spinal movement with moving through the largest joints first.
4. Move your joints through their optimum range of motion.
5. Create core stability by boosting up your band has and breathing.
6. Be relaxed and resilient.
7. Be generous with yourself and move through your pain-free range of motion.
8. Remember that less is more.

In addition to these eight principles of movement, explore the five principles associated specifically with back bends.


1. Relax

Because it is easy to complete a back bend by moving through the weak links of the spine, it is easy to create injury and dysfunction. So, to safely inspire a functional and balanced body, it is important to cultivate awareness of movement.

Breathe and relax before moving into any back bend. Being relaxed heightens awareness and encourages tighter, tenser areas of the body to release and let go, while also allowing for inner cues of what is working and what is not working to surface.

As the movement continues into the back bend, you may notice that you are particularly tight in one area of your spine or at your hips. As a result, full extension may not be possible. By being aware, you can prevent yourself from forcing through this and instead cultivate a different way of moving that enables release, stability, and strength.

2. Initiate Extension at the Upper Spine

Back bends provide a lovely laboratory for enjoying the spine in its full splendour. As mentioned earlier, in order to experience a back bend, the spine must extend. Without spinal extension, the back bend will not occur.

To optimize spinal extension, begin at the upper spine. By moving first at the upper spine, then maintaining the depth of the pose relative to the movement occurring at the upper spine, you are almost guaranteed to not overcompensate, which means you won't move through the weak links, which in turn means you won't jam the lower back and cause back or neck pain.

3. Release the Chest and Use the Back of the Shoulders

Sometimes initiating movement at the upper spine is difficult because the muscles of the chest are tight or desensitized. If the scapulae have the tendency to ride up to the ears, and the shoulders round forward, it can be difficult to access the segmental movement of the individual vertebrae of the upper spine.

4. Stabilize the Connection between the Pelvis and Spine and between the Pelvis and Femurs

Sometimes initiating movement at the upper spine and releasing the chest are difficult because the muscles of the lower back are tight, desensitized, or hypermobile. When the lower back is dysfunctional, there is a tendency for the pelvis to move with dysfunction as well. It can become stuck or unstable.

Whichever the situation, both can lead to poor spinal movement, increasing the potential for pain and injury in the lower and mid back. By improving the connection between the pelvis and spine and between the pelvis and femurs, you can gain a foundational structure from which your back bend can move safely and easily.

5. Fan the Pelvic Stability Outward: Developing Your Core

Fanning the pelvic stability outward is the essence of developing solid core stability. Beginning at the pelvis and radiating up the spine and down to the toes, it is necessary if you want to experience strength, ease, lightness, depth, and freedom in a back bend.
About the Author
Susi Hately Aldous is the facilitator of the Anatomy and Asana workshop series taught internationally. This article is based on her book: Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries. More information from this book is available at Browsebooks: (includes illustrations)
copyright Susi Hately Aldous

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