Yoga is so popular these days and understandably so. It has so many benefits for both the body and mind. What's great about yoga is that there are levels to it and so most people are able to do it. Because of its accessibility and reputation for being an easy way to exercise and get your body moving, it's often forgotten how damaging it can be to your body if not done properly.
Now that's not to say that any particular pose is 100% of the time bad for you. But most people don't realize that the large majority of the population practicing yoga CANNOT do the poses in the same way the instructor can. There's often a silent pressure to do all of the poses or overdo the pose so you don't look like the one in the class who is incapable.
So today I'm talking about three "easy" and "popular" yoga poses that are often done incorrectly or overdone and become damaging to the body. I'll also be sharing how to modify each pose to protect your body! So let's get right into it:
1. Seated Spinal Twist- Starting off strong with the good old twisting stretches. If you have been a patient before or follow my blog/Youtube channel, you might already know that I am not a huge fan of twisting, especially when it's overdone. You can get a good stretch without trying to rotate your body completely around. I always err on the side of caution with twisting and suggest only turning about 15 degrees. You'd be surprised the benefits you can feel from minimal movements. For the full breakdown, take a look at the video above.
2. Pigeon Pose- One of the main concerns with this pose is the strain it put on your front knee. Forcing your leg to twist in that way could potentially set you up for meniscus compression or ACL ligament laxity. The key to this is let pain be your guide. If something is pretty uncomfortable, DON'T DO IT. Check out my video for the modification of this pose.
3. Warrior 2- Now this one might really surprise you. How on earth could a simple pose like this be detrimental to the body. Well, to all of you who have nerve tension, the last thing you should be doing is extending your arms out in this way. If you do this pose and feel weird nervy symptoms like numbness or tingling, shock/electric zings, etc, you probably do not have the nerve length to do this pose. Instead, just try keeping your arms slightly bent and don't extend to the point that you get those funky sensations!
If you're a yogi and especially if you're a yogi with chronic pain, I highly recommend trying out some of these modifications. Yoga can be so healing for the body so the last thing we want to do is hurt ourselves doing it.
I hope these modifications were helpful and let me know if there are any other poses you'd like me to review and modify in the comments below!
Remember, we heal smarter, not harder.
Dr. Justin C. Lin