Asana to Avoid for Common Injuries

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Rotator Cuff injuries

  • Vasisthasana - weight bearing in the arms will only worsen the already weakened shoulder joint.

  • Ardha Bhekasana - an intense stretch for the shoulder which may compromise the joint.

  • Any pose with arms overhead and in line with ears may be very difficult to achieve post injury due to tightness, but can be worked up to depending on the condition.


Sciatica/Lumbar spine injuries

  • Padangusthasana - the weight of the upper body and the head can place too much pressure on the lumbar spine, especially if the pelvis is pulling in the opposite direction to the spine.

  • Agnistambhasana - many people come into this pose way before they are ready to. If the student is very tight in the hips then the external rotation in fire log pose can further aggravate the sciatic nerve.

  • Any really intense backbends like Urdhva Dhanurasana place far too much pressure on the lower spine.


Soft tissue injuries (muscles, ligaments and/or tendons)

  • Garudasana - for an ankle sprain the ligaments will have been stretched beyond capacity therefore making this pose too unstable and risky for the student.

  • Malasana - even healthy students will find their knee ‘pops’ upon squatting into this pose if they don’t raise their heels off of the ground. There is too much pressure on the knees - holding the body weight in full flexion - for anyone with a knee injury. Offer Utkata Konasana or Malasana against a wall.

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon) - too risky for any student with knee injuries if they can’t support their weight in the upright position. In the folded position, if not performed properly, they will be stretching the knee and not the hip. This will only lead to further damage of ligaments and weaken muscles surrounding the knee.


Prolapsed disc

  • Savasana - without support from bolsters, blankets and cushions this pose can be very uncomfortable.

  • Parsvottanasana - too much pressure on the disks with all the weight of the upper body hanging forward. Especially a problem if the hamstrings are tight, causing the pelvis and spine to pull in opposite directions.

  • Backbends like Dhanurasana can impinge on the discs further.


Neck Injuries

  • Sarvangasana - even though the weight is meant to be distributed across the shoulders, there is still too much weight in the neck.

  • Sasangasana - the slightest wrong move in this pose puts the student at risk of recurring injury.

  • Ustrasana - the neck is totally unsupported in this pose as the head is just thrown back.


SIJ Injuries

  • Virabhadrasana 1 - you’re basically asking the pelvis to misalign in this pose by wrenching one side of the pelvis backward, increasing vulnerability to further injury.

  • Vrksasana - engages external rotation of the raised leg, which is not recommended for SIJ injury.

  • Janu Sirsasana - involves twisting, abducting and forward bending, all known to aggravate SIJ pain.


By Alyssa McLeod



Understanding our Sacroiliac Joint – Ekhart Yoga. 2016. Understanding our Sacroiliac Joint – Ekhart Yoga. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].

Yoga Journal. 2016. Protect Your Yoga Students' Sacroiliac Joints | Yoga Teaching Methods. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].