Advice

Top 10 Guidelines for a Safe Practice

Let’s be real. Yoga can be dangerous! From the novice to the expert, there are specific safety guidelines everyone should keep in mind. I listed my favorites below.

 

My top 10 guidelines for a safe practice:

  1. Know and understand your limitations.

Be understanding of what you can and cannot do. Be willing to try something new, but if you have high blood pressure or heart problems, stay away from inversions. Let your instructor know if you have a recent injury or are pregnant so she can guide you properly. If you have any health concerns that you’re not sure about, always talk with your doctor and your instructor before practicing. Be aware of your personal limitations as well!

  1. Do not push yourself to severe discomfort or pain.

It is okay to feel uncomfortable during practice! The only way to progress, to get stronger, and to become more flexible is to challenge yourself. However, if something begins to hurt, adjust or ease out of that posture. Feel free to take a modification that feels more comfortable or sit back into child’s pose.

  1. Come to your mat well-rested and well-nourished.

This DOES NOT mean that you should eat a full meal right before Yoga. If you’re feeling tired or your stomach is feeling full, you are putting yourself in danger. Fatigue can cause you to be clumsy and disoriented. Hunger causes rapid fatigue, making your muscles weak and your mind fuzzy. Eat at least two hours before practice to allow some time for digestion. A stuffed belly will make you lethargic and nauseous, especially in warm, fast-paced, or strenuous classes. 

  1. Balance out your postures.

Practice on both sides of your body. Your postures may not feel or look the same when you switch from your right side to your left, but it is important stretch and strengthen your body evenly. This allows you to become more limber and stronger at a much more even pace. It will also limit straining the overworked and/or underworked sides of your body, preventing injuries on and off the mat. 

  1. Always participate in warm-ups.

Your instructor includes happy baby, cat and cow, and frog postures for a reason. When you go for a run, you stretch out your legs, hips, and even your shoulders to prevent pain and injury. Imagine jumping right into splits, inversions, and balancing postures. Your body would be cold and stiff and completely unprepared. Take time to warm your body, to stretch lightly, to slowly move into deeper postures, and thoroughly prepare yourself for practice.

  1. Allow for modifications and variations.

Some days are more difficult than others. Yesterday you could get into the perfect lizard posture and today you can barely get into that low lunge. It is okay to stop there. Your practice is your own. Understand that props ARE NOT training wheels. They are tools to help with your practice, so please use them! Your instructor provides variations and encourages the use of props so all levels can participate in her class. Plow pose may be okay for some, but for others, bridge is the perfect modification.

  1. Do not copy your neighbor!

This is a big one. Yoga is not a competition. Whatever anyone else in the room is doing is not your concern. If you don’t understand the posture, ask your instructor. He/she is there to help you get the most out of your practice. This is your journey. Don’t worry about Becky with the good hair.

  1. Stay hydrated.

WATER WATER WATER! Bring some with you, or if you’ve forgotten your water bottle, it is okay to quietly get up and go to the fountain. You should not feel dehydrated during your practice. Staying hydrated keeps your tendons and muscles lubricated and strong, your mind, eyes, and ears alert, prevents dizziness, and keeps your body cool, energized, and alert.

  1. Devote this time to your practice.

Don’t come to class late or leave early. Not only is it disrespectful to the other students and to your instructor, an incomplete practice will put a lot of strain on your body. From warm-ups to cool-downs, your instructor knows how to keep her students safe. Turn off your cell phone, limit your distractions, and stay focused on what you’re doing. This hour is yours. Be devoted to it!

  1. Listen to your body.

ALWAYS listen to what your body is telling you. Keep in mind that your instructor is only your guide. If your body is telling you to stop and get out of that posture, do it! If your body says it’s okay to sink deeper into your warrior III, by all means, go for it. Only you know what your body has to say.

 

What safety guidelines would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Brooklyn

    August 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    This is all such great advice! One of my biggest obstacles to a healthy yoga practice is my competitive side, both with myself and with others. It has led to so many unnecessary minor injuries. I’m finally making it a priority to learn to listen to my body and stay within my limits, but I’m finding that I struggle to differentiate between constructive discomfort and pain. Having grown up playing aggressive sports in an environment that minimized and disregarded pain, I now really struggle to recognize pain in my practice and take it as a cue to adjust my posture. It’s a journey though and thankfully I’m getting smarter!

    1. Megan Reddix

      Megan Reddix

      August 25, 2016 at 8:20 am

      Hi Brooklyn! I’m so glad to hear you are becoming mindful in your practice. The most beneficial practice is one where you listen to your body. At times this can be hard. Even as an instructor I struggle recognizing the difference between pain and constructive discomfort on the left side of my body. It’s also a challenge to allow your body to go at its own pace. We want to be the best, but are we wanting to be the best version of ourselves or the best yogi ever? We can set realistic goals, and being the best you, you can be is always a great place to start!

  2. Avatar

    vp_oeno.yogi

    August 27, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Great post! Loved every single one of your advises. 🙂

  3. Avatar

    Megan

    August 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Awesome post. Agree with all of it

  4. Amanda

    Amanda

    August 29, 2016 at 9:01 am

    These are excellent tips. What safety in yoga comes down to is truly listening to your body and honoring where it is and how it feels today. Forcing things is a recipe for disaster….in most of life. 😉 Interestingly…when I was shopping for liability insurance as a fitness instructor and yoga teacher, one agent said they would cover me if I only taught yoga, but they wouldn’t since I taught other classes, too. (They were not a company that specializes in liability insurance for fitness/yoga people; I started with them because I had other policies with them!) So, in their eyes, yoga is safer than anything else you can do in the gym. 🙂

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