Yoga related injuries is a very controversial topic and can cause hot-headed debate. I am not an expert but I will throw in my 2 cents anyway, based on my experience, and what happened to us during 4 weeks of intensive training.
Getting sore during teacher training
Small injuries or pain (or both) during this yoga teacher training have finally started to arise. After all, it’s very hard work. My right shoulder felt as if I had sprained it. Shoulders are working super hard every day so it is possible that they are taking a hit. Never had any problems with them before. My right metatorso (a new word I learned in the anatomy class by the way) which has broken twice earlier has started getting mildly irritated.
Furthermore, I’ve had stress fractures on my both feet when I was younger and that is also adding up. Therefore, I have left out all the jumps and am trying to take super easy with my feet, putting no extra stress on them. It is a bit boring because I like the jumps back but then again, I’d prefer being able to finish all the classes rather than having to miss a few because of old injuries.
What we learned from Ewa anyway is that you need to make the distinction between the pain and your thoughts. It can be good pain, making your muscles work. In that case, stick with it. Concentrate on the breath, inhale and exhale slowly. It will help you get through it. If it is “bad” pain, then you need to change something. I will see how it goes with my foot for a few days and talk to Ewa if the problem persists. Luckily we have an anatomy expert available.
Other people have started to have small problems as well. Pain in the knee is very typical and a few of the girls have had to start paying attention to the asanas and making modifications so they wouldn’t hurt their knees more. During the theory lessons we are seeing more and more different kinds of pillows and cushions to be used, so the sitting on the floor would be more bearable.
Does Ashtanga Yoga Cause Injuries?
As with any activity, it is possible to get injured doing Ashtanga as well. That is why it is important to have the correct alignment. If you do asanas in a wrong way for a long time it can make you prone to injuries. Avoid forcing yourself into asanas. Don’t hyperextend. Don’t twist, pull or jerk if you feel pain that is the bad kind of pain. Pain that derives from your ego and trying to hard, rushing in or wanting too much too soon. To avoid injuries, you also need to pay attention to flexibility and strength in equal amounts. Usually we are inclined to either of them. Then you need to work on the opposite force to keep the balance. I’m gaining flexibility quite easily but I still have so much work to do with my core strength and upper body muscles. A never-ending task!
Yoga has enormous health benefits and healing power which tend to outweigh the possible negative side-effects, such as pain or injury, whether it be yoga-related or coming from somewhere else. An amazing proof of this is the story of Deepika Mehta who healed herself from a very severe accident by doing pranayama, meditation, yoga and various healing techniques. Doctors said she would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life but through self-determination and yoga’s healing powers she became a dedicated yoga teacher who has students and followers all over the world. All in all, I think it’s reasonable to say that yoga does have healing powers. The primary series has an ominous name. It is called:
Yoga Chikitsa translates to yoga therapy. It means that through practicing the primary series your body will start healing and purifying itself. And as Pattabhi Jois, our guru said: “Yoga is for everyone.” There you have it. Now you have no excuses. The only people yoga is not for, is lazy people, as Pattabhi Jois has stated.
So does Ashtanga yoga cause injuries? During teacher training you will get sore, no doubt about that. The training is intensive so it would be a small miracle if you wouldn’t get strong sensations in your body. But the rewards wait in the end. So rub in all the ailments, have a massage and use whatever means you have to alleviate the discomfort and pain. Talk to your teacher if the problem persists and don’t overdo it. Listen to your body.