Although studies have previously found that yoga is a safe movement practice as long as it’s done mindfully, many are now finding an increasing amount of yoga injuries. According to researchers, the previous studies may have inaccurate results because the participants were observed under careful, experimental conditions which may not reflect real-life yoga classes.
The research paper was published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies and looks at the relationship between musculoskeletal pain and recreational yoga.
According to the study, one in ten yoga practitioners reported yoga injuries after taking up yoga for recreation and exercise. These were based on questionnaires given to students at the start of the study, and a follow-up one year later.
Based on their findings, 10.7% of the participants reported new pain due to their yoga practice. Additionally, 15 of these participants said they had to miss yoga class because of the pain, and 16 participants said the pain lasted for more than six months.
The participants said that the most common areas of the body for yoga injuries and pain were the wrists of hands, shoulders, elbows, hips or thighs, and the lower back. The injuries and pain reported seems to be not associated with the participants’ age or yoga experience and duration of yoga practice.
Other ways to look at this study on yoga injuries
However, as pointed out by Forbes, this study on yoga injuries also has it’s own flaws. The findings were based on questionnaire results from two locations of a yoga studio somewhere in suburban America. Less than a tenth of the yoga participants actually completed both surveys (only 566 out of 4,901 students), and the study also did not factor in that even though the studio’s yoga instructors were certified (minimum 200 hours as set by Yoga Alliance), it is not known if the hours of training translated into quality yoga teaching.
Mindfulness is still the key to developing a safe and injury-free yoga practice. The researchers concluded that anyone who wants to start a recreational yoga practice, like any new exercise or fitness regime, should tell their healthcare practitioners, inform the yoga teacher of any pre-existing injuries, pain, and most importantly, honour their own personal limits every time they go on a yoga mat.