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WISDOM WITHIN - October 2015 - Kansas City

Do No Harm: Prevent Yoga Injuries

By Suzette Scholtes


“I am too stiff for yoga,” the man said when he walked in. I assured him taught properly no one is too stiff.

Then a young lady walks in holding her elbow. She tore muscles at her gym yoga class with too many yoga push ups. I sent her home to protect her arm and suggested she seek medical help.


Many regard yoga as a physical fitness routine rather more than a transformation pathway. Why try a class? Students share a variety of reasons: ease stress, lose weight, become more flexible, or release back, neck/shoulder or hip pain. Few share they wish to overcome limitations, ego, or evolve as a person. And that’s okay.


One of the key roles of the teacher is to keep yoga safe. Transformation of bad habits, a change of attitude, or learning how to manage stress may or not happen but injury can be avoided if the teacher is certified and/or credentialed.


In my 30 years of practice, I sustained one injury when I did not pay attention to my pose and pulled a muscle. It was a good lesson. I always pay attention and back off when I know it may be too difficult or at risk for how my body responds that day.


Doing no harm is a philosophy called “ahisma” or creating non-violence in our minds, actions, words and thoughts. It’s a tall order indeed! Our thoughts of guilt, shame, resentment, disappointment all have seeds of “violence” within them. Non-violence is unconditional love. It holds true compassion for self and others.


How to avoid injury?

  • Find your breath and keep it strong throughout your practice.

  • Avoid comparing your pose to anyone in the room. Comparison feeds ego.

  • Understand alignment principles which will protect your joints and prevent injury.

  • As you learn to align the energy or “prana” flows into every fiber of your being

  • Think of a three story building. What might topple if footings were shaky or out of frame?

  • A good teacher knows how to modify poses. Always inform he/she about current health challenges.

  • Practice at home and observe. Where do you feel compression? Where are your edges? Do you enter a pose with willfulness or mindfulness?


The gift of self-awareness yoga gives is priceless. Now you have tools to turn-around anxiety and fears. You will become aware when you trip yourself up with your own ego or limitations. Your mental, emotional, and physical health soars to new heights. “Do no harm” to self or others becomes part of your heart and your thinking on a daily basis and yes, you will, help make this world a better place.  While setting goals or plans affirm “I create this or better with harm to none.” Then watch the universe open doors for you beyond your imagination! Stay safe, reader friend.

Suzette Scholtes’ non-fiction writing won the prestigious “Writers Digest” award. Her passions are writing and yoga and she feels one needs a sense of humor for both. She founded The Yoga School of Therapeutics where she manages one of the regions prestige teacher training programs. 10400 W. 103rd Street,

Overland Park. 




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