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    Yoga class, injuries, why I dislike yoga, yet how I do love to stretch and gain flexibility

    Yoga classes vs stretch classes. Be careful not to do advanced yoga! Start with gentle stretching and work up to yoga slowly

    I think yoga class can actually get you injured.   Yoga is touted as having all of these health benefits from relaxation, to increasing strength and flexibility. However it seems like no one ever talks about the pitfalls of going to yoga class.  Well I am going to.  The advanced yoga poses can get pretty hardcore and require strength, flexibility, balance and often many years of practice.  If you haven’t been doing yoga for a long time already, and you’re a little old and rickety, you can actually injure your neck, back or other body parts inadvertently. If you are going to take yoga classes for the first time, you should really be careful not to get into too advanced of a yoga class.

    Yoga is not low impact exercise. If you are older and out of shape I don’t know that yoga would be a starting point. Try pilates with a private instructor who can ascertain your fitness level, or a very beginning yoga class for seniors, before jumping into a yoga class where you could get looked over and hurt yourself trying to do the yoga poses

    One of the main problems I see is that older people with some real frailty may mistakenly think yoga is low impact and gentle, when in fact it really is not all that gentle.  Just because it is low impact, does not mean it is no impact.  Since elderly people wanting to get in shape can’t tolerate the high impact classes like aerobics (also terrible in my opinion), they innocently make an assumption that yoga is going to be safe.  This is a misnomer in my opinion.  You can get a muscle or ligament strain, disk injury or cartilage tear doing yoga believe it or not.  I’d personally leave the trendy yoga classes (and aerobics) to the younger generation.


    Exercise class participation can hurt you. Yoga classes in particular look gentle so it is easy to underestimate what you can safely handle.

    I’ve been to many yoga classes and what I sensed in all of them (even the beginner ones) was that the instructors wanted everyone to participate in all the moves and be pretty focused in class.  If you are trying to participate in a yoga class that you aren’t physically up to, you can hurt yourself (this goes for any exercise class, not just yoga). They don’t like a whole lot of interruptions in yoga.  Not good.  You’re sort of forced to follow the instructor and god only knows who this instructor is or where they obtained their so called yoga credentials.  Some of the moves are really straining.  But the biggest strain on your body can come from the moving from yoga position to yoga position.  That was so jarring and totally unnatural to me.  I despised forcing myself quickly from position to position.


    If you are a yoga novice, you had better watch out for your hamstrings, neck, lower back and knees.  If you tweak something wrong trying to pretzel yourself through a move, trust me you won’t be happy.  I tried Bikram yoga for a while and we would have class in a boiling hot room.  That felt good in so far as it loosens your body up to stretch, yet you can so easily overdo it and get a stretch related strain.  The heat also wrecked my hair.  Ashtanga yoga, also known as power yoga is even more intense and difficult.


    The moving from position to position in yoga class is the part that I personally object to the most.  I felt like I could get hurt.  I don’t want a soft tissue injury.  This might sound counter-intuitive, but I believe you need to adopt a “follow your gut” strategy of safety and if you think something may wrench your back for example, stop doing it.  You can simply walk and do gentle soothing stretches at your own pace.  Don’t get forced out of your comfort zone in a yoga class which impels you to follow positions that are straining you.


    I am really going to get people miffed when I say this!  I don’t like the breathing thing they make you do in yoga class either.  I hate being forced to breath to relax.  Nor do I want to pay money for it.  Forced breathing in a class really doesn’t relax me at all.   I like to exercise, and it’s the exercise itself that relaxes me, and then I can breath deep and easy (not the other way around).  Deep breathing comes naturally after you exercise (or sex) and you don’t really need to force it like they do in yoga.


    Flexibility and gentle Stretching are the best part of Yoga. Try the Yoga Stretch Deck for flexibility stretches

    that are relatively easy.

    The one thing I do think is a fantastic part of yoga is basic stretching.  Gentle and consistent stretching will help increase your flexibility, reduce muscle tension, improve your circulation and help prevent injuries if you do it on a regular basis.  I try to stretch out for 15-20 minutes a few days a week.  Stretching feels so good.  I just do simple stretch positions and nothing complicated.  I don’t try to quickly connect one stretch to another like they do in yoga.


    At one point I found and bought this deck of cards from Barnes and Nobles called the Yoga Stretch Deck.  I was attracted to it when browsing the bookstore because it was mostly all stretches and not about the yoga moves.  The cards had simple stretch positions on each card.   After one of my (four) pregnancies, for about six months, I did the yoga stretch card deck at home and liked it way better than yoga class because I could control the pace and peacefully get into the new stretch without having to hurry up with the class.  But home exercise is hard to keep up and I flaked out on following the card deck eventually even though I liked the stretching.  Now I continue to stretch out a few days a week when I am at the gym.  I actually do some of the really basic stretches that I learned from the cards.  I had a yoga mat at one point but it got tossed in a garage clean out.  I haven’t been to a yoga class since nor do I have any desire to go.  The only part I like is the stretching.


    I guess I think yoga class is a little too acrobat-like and cult-like, though I do like the stretching aspect of it.  It’s just my personal opinion.  If you’re regimented and dedicated and dig meditation like Madonna or the model Christy Turlington (who started a yoga apparel line puma nuala), you might get into the whole yoga thing.  Oh, one last little footnote is that I never saw too many regulars at yoga class.  The people came and went.  The yoga studios came and went too.  Like a revolving door.  At the gym I do the nautilus machines a few days a week and I see the same people around year after year after year.  Now that’s something to think about.  If you find an exercise that you like to do year after year after year, then you my friend are on the right track.

    Yoga Stretch Deck

    You hear buzz about yoga benefits, but with increased popularity comes more yoga class injuries. Take precautions and don’t strain yourself taking classes beyond your skill level

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