For your health: Train properly for yoga

(CNN) — Sunday was International Yoga Day, a day aimed at enlightening the world about its benefits.

If done properly, the ancient art can give you flexibility, help your mental and physical state, and alleviate your stress. But you have to know what you’re doing.

Marshall Sanders has been a registered yoga instructor for five years and has enjoyed yoga since he was a teen.

So when reports of yoga-related injuries such as strained backs, slipped discs, muscle injuries and sprains began to pop up in the news, Sanders knew what the problem was — people were not being trained properly.

“A lot of people will buy DVDs and buy books and without that special touch and guidance from a teacher, it’s really hard to know if you are getting the poses accurately,” he said.

And doctors will agree — like any new activity, participants must learn to do it correctly and people also have to take their overall health into consideration.

“Do they have any conditions like osteoporosis, or something that will put stress on their spine or fracture their spine,” said Dr. Assil Saleh of Foxhall Internists.

Experts say look for a certified yoga studio and start slow, because there are different degrees of yoga. Instructors recommend that you gradually work into a program that is comfortable for you, and talking to your doctor about taking yoga is best.

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