Saturday, March 30, 2013

Perspective - Safe Yoga for a Lifelong Practice

by Liz Lyons, RYT200

We are repeatedly told in asana practice (the physical practice of yoga) to “honor our bodies.” Because every body is different, preventing yoga injury means different things to different people at different stages. I have been practicing hot vinyasa yoga regularly for 15 years and hope to practice asana for the rest of my life. I turned 50 this year and, because of yoga, feel strong and healthy. Yet, some days my shoulders hurt. And my left knee, well, it’s just not exactly right. My lower back…kind of achy most mornings. A friend with whom I have practiced for many years wakes up every day with a painful hip. Yoga injuries? Maybe. I have come to believe that 15 years of a regular rigorous physical practice has taken a toll on my body, just as any long-term rigorous physical activity would.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, can I still do Yoga?

By Kathleen Summers, MD, PhD, RYT500

Sometimes our community members and website visitors write to us with specific questions about their medical condition and their yoga practice. We'll work to answer these questions on the blog as they come in.

"I have a condition not covered by the Index and need guidance. I have RA and it has destroyed my shoulder joints. I would love to do yoga again, but not sure what poses I can do that does not require use of arms. I can raise them no higher than chest level and have no strength for support. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated."

Yoga is wonderful therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), so taking up Yoga again is a great idea. At least three studies exist in the medical literature looking specifically at the effects of Yoga for RA. A small pilot trial at the University of California at Los Angeles revealed reduced pain, improved functional ability, and better mental health in RA patients after a few weeks of practice. The two other studies revealed similar results. No studies on record offer a dissenting view.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

5 Things You Must Do When Practicing Yoga with a Medical Condition

In 2012, we learned that it is, in fact, possible to be injured during yoga (asana) practice. We also learned the easy ways to avoid injury: don’t compete, be mindful, and listen to your body topped most lists. But what if you already have an injury or medical condition, and want to practice yoga? Is yoga still safe?

The answer is yes. You can still practice yoga even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, ailment or injury; you just might not be able to do every pose. Simply modifying a pose can often accommodate a yoga contraindication. But some more serious medical conditions – like stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease and glaucoma - require you to avoid certain poses to ensure a safe practice. Whether you’re a yoga pro recovering from a car accident or a total newbie with a history of high blood pressure, these five essential tips will help you work around your ailment and maintain or begin a safer yoga practice.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Can Yoga Cause Hernias? Probably.

A few types of hernias
Do you remember to (or are you able to) breathe in every pose? Especially the poses that engage your core to lift your body weight? If not, you’re straining, and creating pressure in your body. If you have any weak spots in the tissues of your abdominal cavity, then you could end up with a hernia. Here’s what you need to know to make sure that doesn’t happen, or to work around a hernia you might already know you have.

 1) What is a hernia and how do you get one? 

A hernia occurs when the outer tissue of an organ, or the organ itself, pushes through an opening or weak area in the muscle and tissue of the abdominal wall. Hernias can affect various parts of the body, but most occur in the abdominal area. Some can be painful and are often visible as a lump that forms where the protrusion occurs.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Lock Your Knees!" - What NOT to do During Your Yoga Class

“Lock your knees!” was the firm directive from my Yoga teacher. I’d decided to attend class in a new style, to try something different from the smorgasbord of modern brands. I enjoy keeping an open mind, knowing that various styles can do the same asanas in just a little different way. There’s usually no real “right” or “wrong.” What works for some body types and Yoga traditions doesn't work for others.

Staying open to the newness and variety of modern Yoga can invigorate a practice that may feel stale, but it’s important to retain awareness of proper biomechanical technique within each exploration – even if that means not following the advice of a new teacher.