Trying to force yourself into a yoga posture your body is not ready for, or not flexible enough for, could prove disastrous. Yoga is meant to be a nurturing form of exercise, not a rigid imitation of poses. You can stretch and strengthen your body without having to touch your nose to your knees, or your feet to your head.
Following are suggested ways to help you in your yoga practice:
Style -- Practice gentle forms of yoga, such as Kripalu, Viniyoga, or Integral Yoga. Bikram, Ashtanga and Power Yoga are generally too vigorous for beginners and inflexible people.
Your Instructor -- Find an instructor who is experienced, certified and cares about your physical imitations. He or she can modify the pace or perhaps offer alternative poses to meet your specific needs. In addition, never let an instructor try to force your body into any pose. Practice the "hands off" approach!
Warm Up -- Get in ten minutes of warming up with easy movements to increase circulation, lubricate joins and ready your body to stretch. You want the poses to progress from simple to more difficult.
Poses to Avoid -- The plow, full shoulder stand, headstand and full lotus. These poses can place tremendous strain on joints and disks.
Protect Your Back -- Keep your knees slightly bent and hinge from your hips when you bend forward from any standing position. For arching backwards, concentrate on opening the front of the body by lengthening from the navel to the sternum. Be careful not to over-arch your lower back, as this will compress the lumbar disks.
Protect Your Knees -- Never lock your knees when in a standing posture. If you feel any strain while doing sitting or kneeling postures, place a cushion or folded blanket under your bottom.
Your Neck -- Be sure you keep your neck in alignment with the rest of your spine at all times, especially when arching backwards. Be careful not to allow your neck to drop back or down.
Enjoy your yoga practice and you are sure to reap the rewards -- you will know when you are ready to take it a step further -- or perhaps you will be happy right where you are at. Let your body be your guide.Get to now it and its injury-prone areas and back off from any movements that causes pain or cramping. And above all, never compare yourself to others!