Yoga comes in many different styles, forms, demands and level of understanding and practice. Not everyone can do the same poses in a perfectly professional manner. As with any physical exercises, you have to pay attention and listen to your body and know your limits. Yoga may relieve your back pain. If you bend in the wrong way or overstretch youself, it could break your back.
According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, there were more than 3700 yoga-related injuries costing a total of almost $94 million in medical care in 2004. The most common injuries involve repetitive strain, overstretching the neck, shoulders, spine, legs and knees. Serious muscle damage and related injuries can occur if people don't take proper precautions, particularly those with pre-existing musculoskeletal conditions.
Injuries tend to be caused by joint over-compression and pushing soft tissues past anatomical limits. People with back problems or lumbar disc injuries should be careful with extreme forward bending. Those with neck pain may want to avoid or modify the cobra pose.
Yoga is a great exercise and an important rehabilitation method. Before you jump right in and get confused with yoga poses (e.g., warrier, half-moon, triangle, downward-facing dog, cobra, eagle, camel, plow, tree, mountain, lotus, corpse, etc.), observe the class. Ask the yoga instructor what style he or she is teaching. Try one class to see if you like it and can perform the basic poses and movements without too much trouble. You want an exercise that's a little challenging for you but not too difficult to perform. Choose one that meets your needs, abilities and fitness level.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons have the following recommendations to minimize yoga-related injuries: