As a discipline, yoga occasionally sees some bad press for being dangerous. While folding your limbs up like a freshly baked pretzel is beyond the scope of the average beginner, yoga can be hazardous. In this article, we’re going to address some commonly-overlooked points of approach which should be understood by any aspiring Yogi worth his or her lightly sprinkled salt. Having the foreknowledge provided in this article could mean the difference between success and failure in taking up yoga on an on-going basis and, by extension, could change the course of your entire life for the better.

Practice at Your Own Pace

A yoga class may seem a simple affair and, in many ways, it is. You sit on a soft mat, breathe and extend your body into various positions while being lulled by white walls, wooden floors, comfortable loose-fitting clothes and with burning Nag Champa incense filling your nostrils. However, hitting the many positional nuances of body parts correctly with your steady breathing can be remarkably overwhelming when accompanied with moment to moment instructions from a teacher.

When you’re concentrating on having each joint and body part correctly orientated and listening for the next step of the position, go at your own pace and make sure that you listen to your body if it’s getting sore or overextended. This may seem simple, but it’s so commonly overlooked and so critical to success. This brings us to our next point.

Is that Good Pain or Bad Pain?

The founder of Iyengar Yoga, B.K.S Iyengar, once discussed the concept of good pain and bad pain. The idea is that bad pain is recognised as sharp, sudden or shooting pains which are essentially warning signals from your body. You wouldn’t ignore the battery warning signal on your iPhone, so why should you ignore a pain warning signal from your own leg? If you receive such a signal then heed it as the warning sign that it is and stop pushing so far.

The so-called ‘good pain’ is that of stretching the correct muscle groups in the correct way, elongating them. Make sure you find your ‘edge’ when stretching muscles, but remember that if it’s genuinely painful then you’re probably pushing too hard.

Trying to Keep Up with the Jones’

A competitive streak is a common thing. This can vary from a mild preference for winning right up to an all-consuming obsession never to be beaten by anyone around you, irrespective normally reasonable factors. Injuries in yoga are commonly experience by those veering towards the latter end of the spectrum. Yoga is about the journey of you, the individual. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you must touch those toes while your mat-neighbour cannot and then make sure they’ve noticed you doing so by letting a small grunt slip out. If it helps, close your eyes before focusing on finding your own edge in a stretch rather than trying to overextend. Like it or not, yoga is not a competition.

Don’t Rush to Impress

In Ashtanga Yoga, there’s a move whereby the practitioner stands upright, bends forward to put the palms flat on the ground either side of the feet and then slowly and in a controlled fashion, folds the entire body up to a handstand on the spot. It’s an incredibly impressive sequence and, if you knew how to do it, you can guarantee that its party trick you would be showing off every remotely reasonable opportunity. Bowever, attempting to rush your yoga practice towards executing such amazing feats of the human body will leave you injured. Be patient. You’ll get there in time if you diligently build the necessary body strength and dexterity by continued attendance to your practice. Good luck.

Amy Page is a writer for the New You Boot Camp, Europe’s leading fitness and weight-loss programme.