A yoga class is commonly used to prevent injury in the first place through increasing your flexibility. There are those occasions where you'll actually cause a soft tissue injury by pushing yourself to the max. Injuries won't necessarily cripple you, though. In many cases, it will hurt but it won't stop you from continuing your exercises.
So should you push on through your aches and pains or stop?
Push it to the Limit
Modern society is all about pushing yourself to the limit. If you aren't screaming in agony you aren't trying. Whilst this might be true in the realms of weightlifting, it shouldn't be true in yoga. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing. The flexibility you gain should always have less focus than on relaxation.
You should listen to your body. If it's in pain you need to acknowledge it's reached its limit and it can't take much more punishment. Yoga isn't a competition. If you can't go any further you need to stop before you cause an injury.
The Type of Injury
The type of injury can mean a lot when you're deciding whether to stop or move forward. Back injuries and those where you can't put any weight on the affected area are the type of injuries which must call an end to your yoga session.
On the other hand, common yoga injuries don't have to cause you to stop. Wrist and ankle injuries are regular injuries which even the most accomplished yoga practitioners experience sometimes.
Make adjustments to your current pose to take the strain away from the injured area. Down dogging is a problem for people with wrist injuries. For this exercise, you could spread your arms further apart to balance the load. Change the angle of your back and hips to force the strain backwards towards your shoulders instead.
Shrugging is where yogis shrug their shoulders to bring the strain away from other areas of the body. What they don't know is they're simultaneously disengaging their supportive muscles around their arms, shoulders, and neck. It increases the chance of injury, especially with your rotator cuffs.
Shrugging usually happens when certain joints are feeling painful. It provides immediate relief, but the change in form damages you in the long-term. If you can't complete your yoga session without shrugging it's time to stop.
What about Chronic Injuries?
Chronic neck and spinal issues don't have to stop you from entering your local studio. You simply have to make adjustments to the way you approach it. Start by accepting the fact you will never be able to do some poses. The more advanced poses will always be beyond your reach.
For the poses you can do, support yourself using a cushion or other piece of soft furnishing. Filling the space between your lower back and the floor can give you the support you need to turn â€˜ouch' into â€˜ooom'.
Any chronic injuries actually caused by yoga should warrant a trip to the doctor. You might need a specialist yoga tutor who specialises in people with chronic injuries to take your classes in future.
Intensive Yoga Courses
If you are planning a trip away to a yoga retreat where you will be attending daily classes, it’s essential that you don’t push yourself too hard in the first couple of days, what’s the point of going to all that expense and planning only to find yourself sitting out the classes because you’ve strained your back in the very first class of the week!
Remember, above all else, yoga should be enjoyed and always leave you with a sense of well-being, not in crippling agony.