Context:Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a popular and physically demanding Yoga style. Although there is growing concern about the potential risk of injury from Yoga practice, there has been no research to date on the relationship between this form of Yoga and musculoskeletal injuries.
Objectives: The first objective of this survey was to determine the proportion of Ashtanga Vinyasa practitioners who are injured and the injury rate per 1,000 hours of practice. The secondary objective was to determine the location, type, and outcome of musculoskeletal injuries.
Design: Data was collected via a survey questionnaire from two Yoga centers in Helsinki, Finland and one Yoga center in Tampere, Finland in 2005. All Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practitioners at these centers (estimated total of 300) were invited to complete the survey, whether or not they had suffered from injuries.
Setting: Certified and authorized Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teachers teach at these centers, and they all follow the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga method as authorized by the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Research Institute (Director Sri K Pattabhi Jois).
Participants: Practitioners (approximate total N = 300) from three different Finnish Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga centers were invited to complete the questionnaires. Of these, 110 (37%) completed surveys were received.
Main outcome measurements: Primary outcome measurements were the number of injured practitioners and injury rate per 1,000 hours of practice. Secondary outcome measurements were the location, type, and outcome of injuries.
Results: Of the 110 practitioners surveyed, 68 (62%) reported having had at least one injury lasting longer than one month, and some practitioners reported more than one injury. A total of 107 musculoskeletal injuries were reported. The rate of new practice-related injuries was 1.18 injuries per 1,000 hours of practice. If recurrence of pre-existing injury and non-specific low back pain of unknown origin were included, the injury rate became 1.45 injuries per 1,000 hours of practice. Injuries related to the practice of Yoga were most common in the lower extremities, especially in the hamstrings or knees. None of the practitioners reported suffering permanent impairment from their injuries; however, this may be a consequence of the sampling procedure (see Limitations of the sample and survey, below).
Conclusions: Musculoskeletal injuries generally occur during activity, and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is no exception. 62% of survey participants had suffered one or more musculoskeletal injuries that lasted in excess of one month. The three most common injury locations were hamstring, knee, and low back. Implications for Yoga teachers and practitioners are discussed.