Heal or harm: the importance of practicing yoga with awareness

IMI Osteopath and yogi Jonathan Vallade’s expert advice on staying healthy and safe on the mat


Yoga is an ancient philosophy with a multitude of benefits. Connecting body and mind with breath, yoga builds muscle strength, improves flexibility, protects your spine, helps you focus, releases stress, relieves pain… the list goes on.

Whether you’re a newbie or a passionate yoga practitioner, all of these benefits and more can be attained if you practice yoga with awareness – with ahimsa (nonviolence: the first principal of yoga).

If we do not practice with awareness; if we ignore pain, soreness, or breathlessness; if we push beyond our limits to perfect the pose, we may not reap the benefits of yoga. Instead, we might risk musculoskeletal injury that can keep us off the mat for months.

This is proven by research published out of the University of Sydney in 2018. In a survey of 354 people conducted over a one-year period, 74% of participants reported that yoga improved existing pain – lower back pain, neck pain, and more. But, 10% of participants reported having new musculoskeletal pain – in their hand, wrist, shoulder, or elbow; and 21% said pre-existing injuries were made worse by yoga, particularly in the upper limbs, such as shoulder pain.

Yoga, itself, does not cause harm. We’re all different, and a yoga posture (asana) that might be helpful for one person may be harmful for another. Yoga allows us to feel different body parts – its restrictions and relaxations – in full awareness. It’s up to us to accept what we find. With ahimsa in mind, we respect our body totally, with kindness and without criticism, no matter how flexible or strong we may be at any given time. Whilst we challenge ourselves to grow, we pace ourselves, modify our practice for any physical limitations, and do not force our bodies into postures that do not feel right.

Yoga and osteopathy: a powerful partnership for optimal wellbeing

With awareness comes positive action. If you want to progress safely in your yoga practice at a pace that’s appropriate for your body, osteopathy can help. Osteopathy is a manual practice with the therapeutic objective of restoring the mobility and motility in your tissues, ligaments, muscles, joints, and viscera.

Yoga and osteopathic medicine are intimately linked. Both practices aim to rebalance your whole being: mind, body, and spirit. They are both science and art because they require an intricate understanding of the anatomy, physiology and biomechanics of the human body. In fact, Master yogi BKS Iyengar qualifies yoga as an art, science, and philosophy. And it is in these same terms that, at the end of the 19th century, the founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still described osteopathy.

When you combine yoga and osteopathy, you benefit from a powerful and empowering partnership. Together, they improve balance, strengthen muscles, calm your mind, and prevent injuries from occurring or becoming worse.

As you become increasingly aware and accepting of your body through yoga, you become attuned to blockages and restrictions in your joints, muscles, or tissues. You may feel resistance, reduced mobility, or pain when you practise a posture, which can prevent you from moving forward. In full awareness, you can anticipate and adopt a preventive approach, so niggling pain and dysfunctions don’t become entrenched health issues.

Aligned with the way yoga works the muscles, the stretching, gentle pressure and resistance techniques adopted by osteopaths help to release blockages and bring your body back into balance. An osteopath with advanced knowledge of yoga can draw on their wisdom of both practices to help modify and add more beneficial movements and poses to protect your spine and musculoskeletal structure as you progress in your yoga practice.

With the awareness of your body that comes with yoga, you may feel the difference in your during osteopathy treatment, making you an active participant throughout the process. And when you return to the mat, your movement will be more fluid and your body more at ease.

Equally, if you consult with an osteopath because you’re suffering with health issues ranging from chronic pain to gut issues, they can diagnose, treat, and prevent injury or illness. Yoga is ideal to prolong the effects of osteopathy through your own practice. Again, an experienced osteopath and yogi can offer guidance on appropriate postures to enhance your healing, deepen your practice, and protect against further injury.

We wish you well on the mat.

If you’d like to schedule a consultation with an IMI Osteopath, call 2523 7121 or connect here.

Chinese version 中文版



如果我們沒有正確地練習, 忽視疼痛、酸痛或呼吸節奏;甚至超越自己的極限來完成動作,這可能會導致肌肉和骨骼受傷。

悉尼大學在2018年對354人進行的為期一年的研究,當中74%的參與者認為,瑜伽改善了現有的疼痛, 例如下背部疼痛、頸部疼痛以及其他痛症。但有10%的參與者有新的肌肉和骨骼疼痛遍佈在他們的手、手腕、肩膀或肘部;有21%的人說練習瑜伽後, 疼痛比以前更嚴重,特別是肩膀疼痛。

每個人的身體都是不同的。一個瑜伽姿勢對一個人的身體有幫助, 但對另一個人可能有害。瑜伽使我們在完全集中的情況下感受身體的不同部位。要謹記在任何時候都要完全聆聽我們的身體, 以善待和不勉強的方式去練習。在挑戰自己的同時,要把握好自己的節奏,針對任何身體上的限制而修改,不要強迫身體做出不正確的姿勢。


整骨療法是一種溫和的治療,針對調整和強化身體,包括關節、肌肉和脊椎的整體結構。瑜伽和整骨療法是密切相關的。兩種做法的目的都是重新平衡整個人的思想、身體和精神。它們既是科學又是藝術,因為兩者都需要對人體的解剖學、生理學和生物力學有一定程度的理解。事實上,瑜伽大師BKS Iyengar將瑜伽定性為一種藝術、科學和哲學。而在19世紀末,整骨療法的創始人Andrew Taylor Still也正是用這些術語描述整骨療法。當您融合瑜伽和整骨療法,便能夠改善平衡、增強肌肉、平靜心靈和防止受傷發生或惡化。

通過瑜伽練習, 你會對身體有更深入的了解, 並能感應關節、肌肉或組織中的阻塞和限制的地方。當你練習時感到阻力或疼痛,就應該停下來, 以免疼痛造成更嚴重的健康問題。

與瑜伽鍛煉肌肉的方式一致,整骨治療師會採用拉伸、輕壓和阻力技術去釋放身體壓力,使身體恢復平衡。具有專業瑜伽資格的整骨治療師可以利用兩者箇中的智慧,隨著你的瑜伽練習, 助你矯正姿勢,以增強脊柱和肌肉骨骼結構。當你練習瑜伽練習時,會感覺到動作更加流暢和身體變得更加自如。

同樣地, 如果你因為各種痛症以至腸道健康問題而諮詢整骨治療師時, 你可以配合適當的瑜伽練習將整骨療法的療程達致最佳的效果。有經驗的整骨治療師和瑜伽導師可以提供適當的指導,以加強你的治療,深化你的練習,並防止進一步受傷。

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