Participation in yoga for fitness, flexibility, and relaxation has increased dramatically over the past decade. More than 15 million Americans practiced some form of yoga in 2009. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, yoga is one of the fastest growing athletic activities in the United States with increased participation of nearly 50 percent in the past three years.
Yoga encourages balance, strength, proper posture, improved breathing, control, and awareness of one’s body, and has potential mental benefits as well. With increased participation, injuries have also become more common. With a few simple guidelines, many of these injuries can be prevented or limited. Additionally, when working with an experienced instructor, yoga may be helpful for injury recovery from numerous orthopedic conditions such as common strains and sprains.
There are several types or disciplines of yoga. Not every form is friendly for beginners and some can be quite strenuous. Depending on your athleticism, fitness, flexibility, and conditioning as well as pre-existing medical conditions, you should choose a style that fits you well. You should also communicate your goals and needs with the instructor before embarking on a new program.
Injuries can be avoided by knowing your limitations. If you have pre-existing medical problems or extremity injuries, consult your physician or orthopedic surgeon prior to starting or renewing a yoga program. Discuss any pre-existing conditions with the yoga instructor before starting a class. They may want you to avoid certain poses or positions.
Typically, injuries occur when participants attempt a challenging pose or posture without having the initial capability, flexibility, or strength to perform that maneuver or when the pose is performed improperly. In yoga, it is better to do a portion of the maneuver perfectly than to push from poor alignment into a full pose.
With proper techniques and guidance, yoga can be extremely rewarding both physically and mentally. Following this straightforward advice, injuries are unusual and the disciplines can be quite beneficial for core and postural strength, balance, and flexibility..
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