Hey my love, if you’ve been bitten by the vinyasa Yoga bug, I totally get it! While my first entry into Yoga Nidra and meditation, I quickly saved up my dollars and bought a Yoga DVD (remember those) and did my routines in the basement of my parent’s house until I had the practice memorized! Vinyasa Yoga had me hooked and it has been my go-to for movement and meditation for almost 20 years!
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t ‘over done’ it before, or that it’s been a totally injury free two decades. Just like ANY movement modality the risk of overuse and injury is inherent. All movement carries risks. But the reward of daily movement far outweighs the risk, and it is an essential part of staying healthy and vital. I found that in my hiccups of going too hard or too fast, I learned by biggest lessons. Cultivating an awareness of how the body is tolerating movement routines not only helps us feel better physically, but it will strengthen our mindfulness 'muscle'.
Vinyasa Yoga is and should be 100% customizable. In theory it CAN be a daily practice. I recommend 2-3x per week strike a steady, manageable rhythm.
Here are things to look out for as you increase your time in Vinyasa Yoga:
Check in with your wrists & shoulders. Vinyasa Yoga has many postures that require quadruped (all fours) positions like table-top, plank, and downward dog. Practicing modifications (like substituting table top for planks and down dogs) can be important practices to keep you flowing safely when your wrists and shoulders are sore.
Stretch more parts of your body than just low back and hamstrings. We all know how good it feels to stretch the back of our legs, or release tension in the low back. It's also important to check in with how much time is spent only stretching those areas. Take time to balance out with postures and stretches that open up the front line of the body and strengthen the back line of the body.
Move in multiple planes of motion. One of the inherent benefits of yoga is that it is not confined to a machine which will limits motion to a single plane (like a bike or a treadmill). But if you are new to this style of movement, motions like twisting and side-bending - especially twisting or bending during compound movements - might tilt you off balance. Start with smaller ranges and gradually increase them.
Don't skip balance training! One of the most common injuries are trips and falls. And the skill of good balance is also an essential function for almost every movement modality! Vinyasa yoga acclimates you to the sensory stimulation of your feet. It takes a few classes but you will get used to practicing barefoot and in the process your balance will improve. Barefoot movement along with intentional time spent in static balancing postures along with dynamic balancing transitions will improve balance and coordination, helping you reduce the risk of injury over time.
About the Author:
Julia Lopez (ERYT500, YACEP, CPT) is a yoga teacher, teacher trainer, personal trainer and founder of Practice Everywhere as well as a co-owner of Honest Soul Yoga. Yoga came into Julia's life when she was just a teenager and for almost 20 years it has been her physical and spiritual discipline of choice, and most trusted tool for her mental and emotional well-being. Julia leads classes globally through her company Practice Everywhere as well as locally at her home-studio Honest Soul Yoga. When travel is available Julia also leads international wellness retreats, and leads trainings and continued education for Yoga teachers and movement professionals.