Yoga Injury Prevention

Preventing Downward Dog-itis


Here are some ways to minimize your risk of injury in yoga.

  1. Find the yoga style that’s right for you. There seems to be as many styles of yoga as there are LuluLemon pants. From Power to Easy, From Moksha to Bikram and from Flow to Yin, make sure the style fits with your goals (1).
  2. Listen to your body. Pain is the bodies way of telling its just not right. Don’t attempt a position that’s painful or push into a sharp pain. Its our first instinct to get the most out of class (especially since we all have very busy lives and want to maximize our time) and work through any pain, but don’t. Many yoga poses take years to master.
  3. Get an educated yoga instructor. Know the qualifications, training and experience level of your yoga instructor. Most yoga instruction is still unregulated so almost anyone can teach it. Find an instructor that is credentialed through the Yoga Alliance at bare minimum. Find an instructor that has a solid foundation of anatomy and correct body alignment that won’t stress your muscles and joints. You are practicing yoga to improve your mobility, core strength, movement awareness and balance NOT to stretch and stress tissue.
  4. Don’t be afraid to use props such as blocks, straps and cushions. My yoga instructors often will place two blocks and a strap next to my mat (I may have some mobility issues).
  5. Begin at the beginning- i.e. start with novice classes and don’t jump into an intense Power class with a bunch of yogis warming up doing headstands. (2)
  6. Yoga is not a sport – don’t compete. This is always a challenge especially for athletes, or for that alpha dog in you.(5)
  7. Yoga home videos have the benefit of being convenient but are not suited to the beginner or those that require supervision. Alignment is key so if you are going to do yoga at home, at least have some mirrors and an idea of what good alignment is like. (3,4)


Yoga has enormous benefits from a physiotherapy point of view as noted with improved mobility, core strength, movement awareness and balance. But yoga needs to be practiced with precision to alignment that will create the physiological changes that are positive. So get an A1 instructor, don’t compete and use props.



  1. International Journal of Yoga Therapy – 18 (2009)  p 2-8
  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Tips to prevent yoga injuries. March 14, 2007
  3. When Yoga Hurts. Paul, P. Time. 2007 Oct 15;170(16):71
  4. Krucoff C. Insight from Injury: If the practice of hatha yoga was meant to heal, why are so many yogis getting hurt? Yoga Journal, june 2003, issue 174:120-124, 203
  5. Kelly j. In Yoga, you can indeed try too hard. Pittsburgh Post. Wednesday, December 6, 2006.