My Doctor Told Me to Take a Yoga Class? Which One Should I Take?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Yoga photo
Photo Credit: DVS Photography

When I teach yoga, one of the most frustrating things is when a new student comes in and tells me their doctor recommended they take yoga. While yoga is a great way to recover from any injury or improve mobility, not all yoga classes are created equal. While yoga is often stereotyped as slow and easy, some classes require a lot of physicality, and jumping right into one of those classes, especially if you’re a beginner, can be dangerous.

Before taking any yoga class, read the description of the class online or call the studio to ensure it’s appropriate for you. If you’re still unsure, here are some classes that are usually okay for those with injuries.

Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga classes give you a good introduction into the most basic yoga poses; you will move from one pose to the next, holding a pose for, on average, a minute, giving your muscles time to settle in each pose.

Restorative Yoga: If you’re injured, a restorative yoga class is perfect for you. You will likely use a lot of props to support you in each pose, and most classes won’t have you on your feet for too long.

Yin Yoga: One of my favorite types of yoga, yin yoga focuses on myofascial release. Extremely slow paced, you’ll hold seated and supine poses for 3-5 minutes.

Most Beginner Classes: In most cases, beginner classes are fine for those with injuries. The classes will be slow enough and you will hold poses for longer. But there are some exceptions…

Which Classes Shouldn’t You Take

Ashtanga and Rocket Yoga: While I absolutely love ashtanga and rocket yoga, I would not recommend them for those who are injured. Both classes are fast-paced and require a lot of strength and flexibility. While those familiar with yoga are able to make necessary accommodations, if you’re new, you may struggle and feel obligated to keep up.

Hot Yoga: If you’re recovering from an injury, I would recommend staying away from any hot yoga class (including Bikram). Hot yoga classes allow the muscles to lengthen more than they normally would, which is great when you’re healthy, but with an injury could give you a false sense of safety to push more than you normally would.

And just a few more tips: make sure you tell the yoga teacher at the start of class about your injury or limitations, speak up if you are uncomfortable or in pain, and never feel the need to keep up with the class. The golden rule is that, even with an injury, you should always leave a yoga class feeling better.

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