Tips for practicing yoga with a shoulder injury

If you’ve recently experienced a shoulder injury, this doesn’t mean you have to forgo participating in your regular yoga class.

The slow, calm nature of Ashtanga Yoga means that even a recent injury shouldn’t affect your ability to hold most poses. However, there are some precautions you should take to avoid aggravating your shoulder and disrupting your focus.

Here are four quick tips for taking an Ashtanga yoga class after a shoulder injury:

Listen to your body

The most important thing to remember when working with an injury is to trust your body. If you feel any unusual aches or pains during a yoga session, it may be time to adjust your routine.

Ignoring twinges can lead to bigger problems down the line, so change things now to avoid further injury. If your shoulder begins to hurt, there is no shame in switching pose or taking some weight off the affected area.

Wait on weight-bearing

There are a number of yoga asana that require you to place a lot of your weight on one shoulder or the other. If you have experienced a dislocation or similar injury, it is always best to get the advice of your doctor before performing a plank, for instance.

Of course, avoiding using the shoulder altogether can be equally as bad as you may lose strength and mobility in the area, which can affect your balance, core strength and elbow and wrist alignment. Instead of dropping all weight-bearing poses completely, try switching a push-up for a straight-arm plank; learning how to stabalise the shoulder joint. You can always talk to your yoga teacher for more suggestions in regards to proper and beneficial alignment of your shoulders, and safe load-bearing. Using your shoulders wisely will direct ‘prana’ or life force into the area, which helps the healing process.

Check your alignment

Alignment is important in yoga to avoid putting undue stress on your joints. This becomes particularly more pertinent after an injury.

Take some time in your next few classes to recheck your alignment. Making sure your shoulders are even and your poses are straight, can save further injury in the future and you may just discover the potential cause for weakness in the past!

Work on your Warrior

One of the easiest ways to protect your shoulders is to find postures that focus on your chest, collarbone and neck.

The Warrior is one pose that accesses each of these areas. By holding this strong and still asana during each session, your alignment and balance will likely see improvement. The Warrior is also a great asana for increasing the strength of your will, which is important after an injury.

Protecting your shoulders is crucial, but letting your confidence slip instead will do more harm. By continuing with yoga, you can help both your body and mind recover.