Hatha yoga (the physical form of yoga) can in fact present risks when you do not practice mindfully. Regardless of how advanced the posture is, there are always alignment cues to consider and general safety precautions.
However, yoga is not about what pose you do, but it is about how you do it. Practicing mindfully on the mat allows for the mind, mind, and spirit to come together as a whole.
Erich Shiffmann claims, "Your skill in yoga has little to do with your degree of flexibility or where your edges happen to be. Rather, it is a function of how sensitively you play our edges, no matter where they are."
In yoga, we experiment at a flexibility edge, endurance edge, attention edge - testing our physical limits, spiritual limits and mental limits. As we find these edges, we learn more about ourselves - mind, body, and spirit.
Shiffmann continues, "The art of yoga lies in how well you play your edges, how delicately you flirt with your limitations, how well you lure yourself deeper into the posture, how sensitively you balance the desire the achieve results with the relaxation of nondesire and surrender, and how thoroughly you immerse yourself in the process and enjoy what you are doing. And again, the primary tool you use is your breathing. Your breathing orchestrates the feeling-tone of the poses as it brings them to life."
The next time you find yourself on your mat, notice your own tendencies. Do you rush in and out of poses, do you back off at the on sight of sensation, or immediately push past your limits? While moving through a flow, stay present and conscious of your movements both in and out of postures and in between postures. Can you slow down and feel the movement of your body, the movement of your breath and the stillness in your mind? Experiment with this balance and play, enjoy the inquiry into yourself.
"Things really start to happen when you learn how to hold a yoga posture at the edge - a place of neither too much not too little stretch. Too far back from the edge is boredom and atrophy. Too far out is injury. Unless you find your edge, there is no growth, no learning, no change." (Michael Lee, Kripalu Yoga Teacher and Founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy)
"Why Do Yoga" - Dinabandhu Sarley
"A New Look At Yoga: Playing the Edge of Mind & Body" - Joel Kramer
"Playing the Edge" - Alison Stein Wellner