Yoga for the Injured Athlete
YOGA FOR THE INJURED ATHLETE.
Aka HOW TO SAFELY COME TO YOUR FIRST YOGA CLASS WHEN YOU ARE INJURED!
“Oh, so you’re a YOGA teacher?! So I tore my ACL and can’t run so I was told to come to yoga.”
“Oh, so you’re a YOGA teacher?! I put my back out but I heard that yoga would fix it, right?”
“Oh, so you’re a YOGA teacher? I’m pregnant and have never done yoga before and was told to stop running, so I figured yoga would be a good idea?”
These are statements I get on the regular when people first find out that I teach yoga.
And it is GREAT. I am glad that people come to yoga for whatever reason they come to yoga.
But it’s also pretty petrifying. Because you CAN get injured in yoga y’all. And yoga, although awesome, is not a miracle drug that can fix your body. And the wrong yoga class with an injury can make you WAY more injured. (And possibly guarantee that you will never go back to yoga again…or at least for many years!!)
Here’s THREE EASY WAYS to get prepared to come to yoga for the first time ever when you’re injured:
1) Ask your doctor
I’m serious. ASK YOUR DOCTOR first. You may not be well enough to take yoga! Or you could be at risk of worsening your injury. ASK TO MAKE SURE IT IS OKAY.
I know as athletes we HATE HATE HATE to be told we can’t do something. But you NEED to check and make sure it is okay. You don’t want to make things worse!!
2) Go to the appropriate class for you
Just because you are a Iron Man, doesn’t mean that you are prepared to head straight into a Power Vinyasa Level 2-3 class. *I know* it is SO HARD to take a break. But chances are if you can’t run/swim/cycle/lift/whatever the injury may be, there’s probably a lot of things in yoga that aren’t so good for you to do either.
See if you can find a class that specializes in:
- Yoga for Athletes
- Restorative Yoga (which is pretty much amazing for everyone)
- Prenatal Yoga (if you are pregnant)
- Beginner’s Yoga (Check out my three tips on Fit Not Fad to get you started!)
- You may be good to take a Bikram, Level 1 Class, or even an “All Levels” class depending on the studio. I would explain your situation and ASK QUESTIONS before just walking into class.
3) Have patience and make sure you REST
Yoga is not a competition. You don’t need to go to a super hard class EVERY day because you can’t run/do CrossFit/Cycle/etc. Make sure you rest. Make sure you take it easy. If you’re used to placing first in your age group it may be hard for you to stop comparing yourself to others in yoga. Know that if you are new to yoga, your poses will not look the same as the teachers–or maybe even the guy next to you.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do a handstand, or do a Warrior II that looks graceful, or if you don’t even know what a Downward Dog is supposed to look like. Just be patient. You had to walk before you can run and the same baby steps apply to yoga! You’ll get there if you’re mean to get there. Take it easy!
Don’t forget to take a REST DAY just like you would with your normal sport or activity. Your body needs it–especially if you are recovering from injury!
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
No yoga teacher knows what’s happening in your body. If something doesn’t feel good, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t do it. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s your yoga practice after all!
Did you start yoga from an injury? What tips do you have? Let me know in the comments below!