Let me be clear up front. I do not “do” yoga. I have never taken a class. My limited experience comes from other exercise systems incorporating yoga poses into the workouts.
I do, however, know several people who are extremely experienced yoga practitioners. These people appear to be very fit and enjoy yoga a great deal. I also know many medical specialists, including orthopedists, who are absolutely convinced of the benefits of yoga.
Based on my limited exposure, I do have a great deal of respect for serious practitioners though. I believe that the benefits to yoga are substantial, so I was very interested in this New York Times article “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.”
It seemed that the headline was incongruous with the actual article. I was expecting a non-stop parade of injured to illustrate the dangers. I was expecting a myriad of experts to declare yoga to be a health hazard. I was sorely disappointed.
A few medical articles were referenced from as far back as 4 decades ago. There was one particularly vocal critic/yogi, Glenn Black, who admittedly had no formal training. His observation that “the vast majority of people should give up yoga altogether” seemed a bit over-the-top. The experts didn’t take the “give up yoga” approach but instead seemed to be warning of specific techniques that can be dangerous.
Overall, I don’t think the article was supported by the eye-grabbing headline. Anecdote, unsupported statements, and opinion do not rise to the level of authoritative proof that yoga is inherently dangerous. For a more balanced view of yoga, compare “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” to WebMD.
It’s obvious to say, but I’ll say it anyway. Any physical undertaking can cause injury. A pick-up game of basketball can result in twisted ankles and blown knees. Repetitive sports, such as running, can be incredibly hard on the joints. Weight lifting can result in crippling injuries. Amazingly, one of the most dangerous sports for a woman to participate in is cheerleading.
So, roll out your yoga mats, but as with anything, be sensible. Get a reputable instructor. Be safe. Don’t push your limits. And have fun!
I would love to hear what you amateur and professional yogis think.