Safety Guidelines for Yoga Asanas

Whenever you practice any sport or physical discipline like yoga asanas, you will be challenged to do things with your body that you may not have done before, thus making it possible for you to get injured. It is therefore important to adhere carefully to all guidelines and precautions.

Although the following guidelines and precautions are not all-inclusive, by following them carefully you can increase the benefits of your yoga asanas and lessen (although not completely eliminate) the possibility of injury. Keep in mind that just as with any intense physical activity or discipline, no matter how careful you are, if you are not an athlete and have been living a relatively sedentary lifestyle, you may experience some physical discomfort and minor aches and pains from the practice of yoga asanas.

  1. Watch the video first: Before practicing asanas with this video, please watch the entire session and study all the guidelines and cautions presented here.
  2. Consult your doctor: Advice in this video is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are pregnant or have any kind of medical problem or injuries, or have had any injuries or problems in the past, or any other condition that may be adversely affected by exercise, such as neck or back problems, high blood pressure, etc., please consult your doctor before practicing yoga asanas or breathing exercises to determine whether and how you can practice safely. Not all poses on this video are suitable for everyone.
  3. Listen to your body: In order to achieve the most benefits and reduce your chance of injury, always listen carefully to your body. This is the most important principle. Be very aware of how your body feels as you practice the asanas. Go only as far as you can without straining or overstretching.
  4. Don’t use force: You should never force your body into any position, nor should you allow someone else to do so, not even an asana “master.”
  5. Never compete: A competitive attitude or trying to impress others can cause you to stretch or twist further than you should, risking injury.
  6. Be responsible: You are responsible for your own well-being, so never do any postures that make you feel uncomfortable. Gently stretch the boundaries of your limitations.
  7. Come out of the pose when you need to:
    • Don’t strain. If you feel any sharp twinges or pain during asanas, you’ve gone too far. Be sure to come out of the pose immediately and rest.
    • If you feel too weak or shaky in a pose, come out of it. Gradually you will build up your strength and be able to hold the pose longer.
    • If you experience numbness in your hands or feet, come out of the pose immediately and be sure to consult your doctor.
  8. Menstruation:
    • Avoid asanas that elevate your pelvis higher than your heart to avoid interfering with the blood’s natural flow.
    • Avoid postures that feel uncomfortable and those that strongly stretch or compress your abdomen.
  9. High blood pressure, heart, and circulation problems:       Ask your doctor whether and how you can practice these asanas and breathing techniques safely. Follow the general guidelines below, even if medication is controlling the problem:
    • Don’t do any upside down poses (where the head is below the heart).
    • Don’t do strenuous poses that raise the heart rate.
    • Don’t hold your breath.
  10. Upside down poses: The successful practice of poses like Headstand, Shoulderstand, and Plough necessitates your having a strong, flexible neck and a strong, flexible back. Practice these poses only if you are able to do them without strain. Do not do them if you have any neck, shoulder, or back problems or previous injuries in these areas.
  11. Cautions for Arm Balance Preparation (Strengthening - Yoga for Everyone Series): The successful practice of this pose necessitates strong wrists, arms, and shoulders and flexible hamstrings. Practice this pose only if you are able to do it without strain.
    • Do not practice it if you have any wrist, arm, or shoulder problems or previous injuries in these areas.
    • Be sure to watch this pose on the video before doing it. Once you turn around to walk up the wall, you won’t be able to see your screen.
    • Carefully follow the instructions for hand placement in this pose. If your hands are too close to the wall, there’s a danger of falling and injuring your wrists or neck when you straighten your legs.
    • Don’t worry if you can’t walk up the wall very far or if you can’t straighten your legs. You can just walk up a little way, keeping your knees bent, then come down and rest when you need to. In the beginning, you don’t even need to walk up the wall. Just practice getting into the starting position properly before you attempt to walk your feet up the wall.
  12. Breathing Exercises (Yoga for Everyone Series): This series contains 3 breathing techniques: Exhilarating Breath, Agnisar Kriya, and Chin Lock. While these techniques can be very beneficial, they can also have negative effects if practiced improperly or if you have certain health conditions. Avoid these techniques if you have heart or circulation problems (such as high blood pressure), are more than 3 months pregnant, or have any other health problem that could be aggravated by such techniques. If in doubt, consult your doctor before practicing these techniques.

    Be very careful never to strain your breath:

    • Don’t hold your breath longer than is comfortable (i.e., when you release the breath, you should be able to take your next breath slowly and with control, without gasping for air).
    • In Agnisar Kriya, you can do fewer repetitions for each set. Rest as soon as you feel you need to.
    • Stop if you feel any negative physical or mental effects from practicing these techniques.
  13. Standing Bow (Wake Up Body - Hello Fitness Series): If your back is not very flexible, just practice the warmup to this pose—if you go beyond your limits, you could get hurt. Remember, doing the pose correctly means doing it comfortably and safely for your body. Don't imitate me or anyone else, but rather listen to your own body.
  14. Standing Wheel (Burn Off  - Fun Challenge Series): If your back, shoulders, arms, and wrists are not very strong or if your back is not extremely flexible, do not attempt this pose. If you go beyond your limits, you could get hurt.

See Also:
Making Poses Easier
Tips for Practicing Yoga Asanas

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