Yoga’s popularity is at an all-time high. People all over the country are bending and stretching to various types of yoga techniques to increase flexibility, build strength, and improve health. As the fitness craze builds a loyal following, the yoga community is recognizing the importance of teacher standards to avoid joint and muscle injury.
The positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to the benefits of yoga. But the slight possibility of injury does exist. Some students push themselves too far while in yoga position—some people simply feel the need to keep up with the person on the mat next to them, while others are not conditioned well enough to hold certain poses.
Several types of injury can be sustained when practicing yoga incorrectly. A sudden and sharp pain can indicate a torn tendon in a joint, especially if the pain worsens with time. If you cannot straighten your knee or shoulder joint and are experiencing severe pain, you may have torn some cartilage. Physical therapists reportedly see patients with yoga-related injuries to the lower back, knees, shoulder, wrists, and neck. Most of these injuries will heal on their own with patience and time.
Every yoga instructor will advise you to stop exercising immediately if you are in sudden pain. Good yoga instructors, however, will be knowledgeable enough about human anatomy to be able to differentiate pain from discomfort in their clients.
The Yoga Alliance was formed in 1986 to promote minimum standards for yoga instructors. It is the only nationally recognized group to register yoga teachers. Teachers who meet the requirements established by the Yoga Alliance have the right to use the initials “R.Y.T.” after their names and to use the trademark of the Yoga Alliance on their promotional materials. Check out the Yoga Alliance’s standards at their Web site.