"While yoga can certainly help you recover from injury, like any physical activity, it can also lead to one if you're not careful. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 5,000 reported injuries due to yoga practice in 2005. "Distinguishing pain from a really good stretch takes a little practice," explains Baxter Bell, M.D., a Petaluma, California-based yoga teacher, physician, and medical acupuncturist. He offers these tips to reduce your risk of getting hurt.
1. Talk to your teacher before class. Your instructor can help you modify your poses to accommodate an injury, but only if he or she knows you have one. If your instructor doesn't have good advice on how to approach your special need, consider looking for another instructor.
2. Don't exceed your limits. Beginning students, especially, tend to push a little too hard.
3. Pay attention to hot spots. The knees, lower back, sacrum, wrists, and shoulders -- observe all of these areas as you practice.
4. Use props. In a pose like Triangle, a block can help you come out of the depth of the pose.
5. Talk to your teacher after class. If something hurts as a result of your practice, let your teacher know so that the next class will be better.
6. Take post-practice care. Ice any sore spots or consider taking a natural anti-inflammatory.
Learn more tips for beginner yoga students.