Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD, a Washington, DC sports nutritionist, naively assumed that her active lifestyle and knowledge of health issues would make for a pain-free yoga experience. So Scritchfield, 34, was taken aback when she hurt her knees badly during a yoga class five years ago.
“I thought I was fit enough to jump into any sport or activity and I didn’t realize that yoga moves are different than my usual running or biking workouts. I pushed the stretch on a pigeon pose and tweaked my sore knees even more,” she says.
Rita Trieger, a 51-year-old registered yoga teacher at the Stamford Hospital Health and Fitness Institute in Connecticut, recalls a similar injury scenario a decade ago. “I was really fit. I was trying to outdo everyone else in the class and I pushed a triangle pose until my hamstring popped. After that, I couldn’t do anything at all for six months,” she says.
Trieger learned her lesson and is now mindful of her yoga students and their risk for injury. “Most beginners are not cautious enough of their body’s signals and can easily hurt themselves,” she says. “But really fit students are competitive and often push the poses too far. A yoga injury can put you out of commission for months. Fit or not, you have to take it easy doing yoga.”
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