Whenever you undertake any form of exercise, it is important to follow a few simple safety precautions in order to stay injury-free, especially if you have not worked out for a while. Doing too much, too soon is one of the most common errors. So too is not observing the correct form, that is, doing the exercise properly.
Many people underestimate just how much of a workout yoga can give. They skimp on their warm up, don’t listen to their body in relation to pushing themselves too hard, and often skip their cool down as they run off to get on with their busy day. Let’s look at these most common mistakes in turn.
Warming up the muscles increases temperature and blood circulation so the muscles are prepared for the hard work of the actual exercise. Static stretching, that is, touching your toes or doing calf stretches are good options, but dynamic stretching is even better. Simple poses like cat cow, and sun salutations, done at a slow pace, are ideal for warming up and increasing flexibility and range of motion.
There are thousands of yoga poses, some requiring more flexibility and impact on the body than others. Yoga is suitable for people of any age, but it is important to pick the right poses that you can do. If you have issues with your knees, for example, squatting poses can cause pain. If you’re pregnant, inverted (upside-down) poses are a bad idea.
There is a big difference between pushing yourself to do a better pose, and injuring yourself. Don’t believe the myth of “No pain, no gain.” Pain is a sign something needs to be addressed.
After each yoga session, you need to cool down because you’ve actually done some pretty intense work on the muscles even if you haven’t broken a sweat. The first part of cooling down is to cover up so your muscles don’t get too chilled. Put your track suit on and do some static stretching, which will help build long, lean muscle.
When you go into Corpse pose for your deep relaxation, you might also wish to cover yourself with a blanket or light shawl.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a yoga practice you can do at home without having to attend classes all the time, find some DVDs you like and use these tips to gets started safely and sensibly.