Yoga is safe and healthy for us because it is “just stretching,” right? Some people say it helps keep them injury-free. But like anything else, you can overdo it. The New York Times just published a great article on this:
I have absolutely nothing against yoga, It can be helpful in maintaining flexibility and range of motion, and in relaxation. But I have treated many yoga injuries.
In the New York Times article, the author interviewed yoga teacher Glenn Black, who with his four decades of experience had some interesting insights on the dangers:
There has been a demographic shift in the people who study yoga. Traditionally, Indian practitioners would sit cross-legged all day, and yoga poses were a natural extension of their postures in daily life. Now we have people sitting behind desks all day jumping into a yoga class and trying to do poses that they lack the flexibility to perform.
Leave the ego at home. Put a bunch of Type-A executives in a yoga class and it becomes competitive. I have had a few patients tell me that they had to stop going to yoga class because they would push too hard to keep up with others in the room.
Some yoga poses are inherently dangerous, such has headstands and extreme bending of the neck. These can lead to cervical disc injuries and even stroke. When in doubt, don’t do it.
If you practice yoga and it makes you feel good, don’t stop. Just keep in mind that as with any other activity you need to respect your body’s limits. There are some yoga poses you just should not do if you have specific injuries. Choose a knowledgeable instructor who can offer alternative positions to keep poses safe for you.
Most importantly, if you have any questions about whether or not yoga is for you, talk to your doctor first.