Hatha Yoga Precautions

Warrior pose tones the leg muscles and increases mobility.

Warrior pose tones the leg muscles and increases mobility.

Hatha, one of the yoga modalities widely practiced in the United States, can provide a welcome break from your busy lifestyle. With a focus on proper posture and breathing, as well as meditation, the sessions naturally slow your pace and make room for self-awareness to develop. Use this new awareness to protect your body from injury by easing into the poses and understanding your physical limits. Check with your doctor about any contraindications Hatha yoga presents to your current health status.

Choose the Hatha yoga style that best suits your physical abilities. Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar and Kundalini are some examples of Hatha yoga, says the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Iyengar yoga lets you use blankets, chairs and other props to make up for physical limitations, for instance. Ashtanga yoga, on the other hand, requires the fitness to perform intense pose sequences continuously.

Tell your yoga teacher if you are pregnant or suffer from glaucoma, sciatica, high blood pressure or other conditions. Some traditional Hatha yoga poses are contraindicated when these conditions exist. It is vital that you avoid them. But a well-trained instructor also knows how to modify many of the poses for you to safely practice them and enjoy their benefits.

Lie on your back or switch to another rest position if you feel lightheaded or dizzy during a Hatha yoga exercise. Likewise, get out of any pose that causes pain.

Practice poses that keep your head above your heart if you have cardiac problems. Placing the head below the heart, in poses known as inversions, changes the blood flow and creates stronger pressure in the heart. Above all, before joining a Hatha yoga class, consult your cardiologist.

Ease into the poses progressively, allowing time for your body to get used to the new postures. Practice daily, waiting at least two hours after you have eaten to start your yoga session.

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Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.

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