Amateur or experienced, yogis often miss out on the alignment cues and therefore suffer the brunt of forming a pose incorrectly, lack of balance or excessive stretch in muscles or pain in the joints. The ego often leads us to perform advance poses, which we are not yet prepared for and becomes yet another cause of injury. This article is directed towards bringing your attention to the safest alignment cues and what you might be missing out during a yoga practice. Have a look at the alignment points you can remember so that you can lead to a safe and a benefiting yoga practice.
Ashtanga Yoga often lays weight on the wrists, which might lead to injury or pain in the joints. In such a case it is best to spread the fingers each time you feel the weight on your wrist joints. When we spread the fingers, we transfer the weight from the wrist and distribute it into the fingers. Poses like Downward dog, upward dog, Cobra etc. can be performed much easily with this alignment cue.
Advance yoga poses lay great emphasis on the elbow joints. Often practitioners bend their elbows to the sideways rather than sticking it in. An outward pointing elbow can lead to injury or pain in the joint. It is reckoned that the elbow should be tucked to the ribs rather going outwards until &unless specified.
We often try to transfer the weight to the trapeze by shrugging our shoulders in multiple poses like chaturangadandasana, cobra pose, up dog etc. This mistake feels like we are getting greater support to the arms, shoulders and neck. Anytime during the pose when you find yourself shrugging, let it go and allow your shoulders to relax.
One of the most commonly sited injuries during a yoga practice is, lower back pain. We suffer due to our inability to keep our back straight. When we scrunch or hunch our back during forward bends we often flex the spine the other way round. It is important that you lengthen the spine, by imagining a string pulling your entire torso upwards stating from the head, and then going for a forward bend.
Often we over extend the rotation or stretch of the muscles in the hip joints in poses like splits, seated wide angle, pigeon pose, warrior poses etc. To avoid that first ensure that the hips are squared forward and the toes are pointed straight ways rather pointing other side unless specified otherwise.
Other than lower back and wrists, knee is another joint that suffers from pain because of rotation from the knee joints and not the hips or sitting excessively in a cross legged position. It is suggested that if you have knee pain avoid poses that put greater emphasis on the knee. Also you can add yoga props like blankets or blocks to aid the process.
With these simple variations and alignment cues a great deal of injuries can be curbed. Try to incorporate them in your daily practice and see a safe yoga practice enfolding.