Yoga is generally considered safe for most healthy people when practiced under the guidance of a trained instructor. But there are some situations in which yoga might pose a risk.
See your health care provider before you begin yoga if you have any of the following conditions or situations:
- A herniated disk
- A risk of blood clots
- Eye conditions, including glaucoma
- Pregnancy — although yoga is generally safe for pregnant women, certain poses should be avoided
- Severe balance problems
- Severe osteoporosis
- Uncontrolled blood pressure
You may be able to practice yoga in these situations if you take certain precautions, such as avoiding certain poses or stretches. If you develop symptoms, such as pain, or have concerns, see your doctor to make sure you're getting benefit and not harm from yoga.
Although you can learn yoga from books and videos, beginners usually find it helpful to learn with an instructor. Classes also offer camaraderie and friendship, which are also important to overall well-being.
When you find a class that sounds interesting, talk with the instructor so that you know what to expect. Questions to ask include:
- What are the instructor's qualifications? Where did he or she train and how long has he or she been teaching?
- Does the instructor have experience working with students with your needs or health concerns? If you have a sore knee or an aching shoulder, can the instructor help you find poses that won't aggravate your condition?
- How demanding is the class? Is it suitable for beginners? Will it be easy enough to follow along if it's your first time?
- What can you expect from the class? Is it aimed at your needs, such as stress management or relaxation, or is it geared toward people who want to reap other benefits?
Achieving the right balance
Every person has a different body with different abilities. You may need to modify yoga postures based on your individual abilities. Your instructor may be able to suggest modified poses. Choosing an instructor who is experienced and who understands your needs is important to safely and effectively practice yoga.
Regardless of which type of yoga you practice, you don't have to do every pose. If a pose is uncomfortable or you can't hold it as long as the instructor requests, don't do it. Good instructors will understand and encourage you to explore — but not exceed — your personal limits.
Nov. 05, 2015
See more In-depth
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- Selecting and effectively using a yoga program. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/public-information/brochures-fact-sheets/brochures. Accessed Oct. 5, 2015.
- 6 things to know when selecting a complementary health practitioner. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/selecting. Accessed Oct. 6, 2015.
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- AskMayoExpert. Yoga: Summary. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
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- AskMayoExpert. Yoga: Cautions. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.