Yogi Beware! 5 Most Dangerous Yoga Poses For…

July 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

Although yoga is often thought of as a gentle, benign practice, there is the potential for injury in almost every yoga pose. Of course, you could also hurt yourself walking down the street, but you still do it because it’s good for you and gets you from point A to point B. The same is true in yoga: it’s worth the risk to obtain the benefits. That said, it’s helpful to know which poses are the equivalent of dodging traffic on the highway, i.e. much more like to lead to injury. That doesn’t mean you should avoid these poses altogether, but you should be aware of the dangers and how to minimize them by practicing safe alignment, finding a good teacher, and learning to respect your own body’s signals about when to stop.

Note: You actually should avoid dodging traffic on the highway. That’s not worth the risk at all.

1. Headstand – Salamba Sirsasana

Headstand Pose - Salamba Sirsasana© Barry Stone
Headstand‘s many benefits are often extolled in yoga class, but there are a number of risks associated with this pose. It’s especially dangerous for anyone with a sensitive neck. If you have every injured your neck, it’s important to speak to your doctor before adding this pose to your repertoire. Like all inversions, it’s also a no-no for people with glaucoma, who’s eyes cannot adjust for the additional pressure of being upside-down. One of the greatest dangers of headstand hurting yourself in a fall, so it should be avoided during pregnancy, except by very experienced yoginis.

2. Handstand – Adho Mukha Vrksasana

© Barry Stone
The trouble with handstand is learning to control the effort that it takes to kick up while keeping your arms straight, since that is the foundation of the pose. I have seen kicks gone wild and buckling arms too many times. As a beginning yoga student, I even strained my hamstring in an overzealous attempt to fling myself into this pose, so I know first hand how wrong things can go. Since this pose is even less stable than headstand, the risk of falling is greater. The same prohibition for people with glaucoma applies.

3. Shoulderstand – Salamba Sarvangasana

© Barry Stone
Are you seeing a pattern here? Yes, this is the third inversion to make the list. These poses are inherently dangerous since they put the body in an unstable, unfamiliar position. Of course, these are the same reasons that these poses are valuable for more experienced students. Shoulderstand and plow can put the neck in a very vulnerable position if too much of the body’s weight is placed at the top of the spinal column. Poor alignment of the legs also increases the possibility of strain.

4. Four-Limbed Staff Pose – Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana© Barry Stone
The danger with chaturanga is cumulative, resulting from doing the pose incorrectly over time. In some practices, this poses is done many times in each class, making for a great deal of wear and tear on the shoulders if care is not taken with the alignment. If you are taking a class with a lot of vinyasas and you feel like you are getting too tired to do safe chaturangas, it’s best to substitute knees, chest, and chin or skip the vinyasas. A good teacher will not give you a hard time about this.

5. Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana

© Barry Stone
Any pose that stretches the hamstrings offers the possibility of over-stretching into injury. This includes basic forward bends like uttanasana on up to advanced poses like monkey. Hamstring injuries can be serious and take months or even years to heal, so avoiding them is the best strategy. But since opening the hamstrings is of great benefit, yoga students have to ride a fine line. First, feel confident that you can politely refuse any teacher’s adjustment. If you feel this is a sensitive area for you, you can talk to your teacher before class or just say “no thanks” if they move to deepen your pose in a hamstring stretch. Second, always listen to your own body and respect your edge. Forcing your way into a deeper forward bend is going to be extremely counter productive.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Get Adobe Flash player