Musings from the Mat
 

Yoga DOESN’T Wreck Your Body

In today’s New York Times magazine, there’s an article titled, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” by William J. Broad. 

Here’s a link to the article, which is adapted from “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards,” by William J. Broad, to be published next month by Simon & Schuster. 
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
 
If you are a yoga practitioner, and/or a teacher of yoga, you’ll want to read the article, and you may want to weigh in with your own perspective, joining the hundreds of readers posting comments on the Times’s online thread. 
 
Here are the comments I sent in earlier this evening:
 
 
“Yoga can be enormously beneficial when practiced sensibly, with modifications, in a manner that awakens presence and self-empowerment. Thousands of studies document yoga’s benefits for body, mind, stress, and healthy lifestyle. 
 
This article focuses on what can happen when people practice yoga to the extreme, pushing themselves beyond what their bodies are designed to do. Injuries occur when students practice in a forceful way that violates functional range of motion, health considerations, or common sense. Ill-informed, aggressive instructors teaching yoga as a purely physical workout only fuel this harmful trend.
 
The first law of yoga is “ahimsa” (non-harming). Students of yoga must assess whether they feel safe with their instructors. They must also take responsibility for their practice and be willing to modify or omit poses, especially if they have injuries or health conditions that require a moderate approach. As yoga teachers, it behooves us to pursue studies that help us teach safely, and to commit to creating a respectful, non-competitive atmosphere through our words, actions and touch.
 
People get hurt practicing baseball, golf, tennis, working out, cheerleading, and running; surely these American-as-apple-pie activities account for far more injuries than yoga ever will. Yet no one is calling for an end to these sports. Nor should they for yoga.”
 
This article focuses on what can happen when people practice yoga to the extreme, pushing themselves beyond what their bodies are designed to do. Injuries occur when students practice in a forceful way that violates functional range of motion, health considerations, or common sense. Ill-informed, aggressive instructors teaching yoga as a purely physical workout only fuel this harmful trend.
 
The first law of yoga is “ahimsa” (non-harming). Students of yoga must assess whether they feel safe with their instructors. They must also take responsibility for their practice and be willing to modify or omit poses, especially if they have injuries or health conditions that require a moderate approach. As yoga teachers, it behooves us to pursue studies that help us teach safely, and to commit to creating a respectful, non-competitive atmosphere through our words, actions and touch.
 
People get hurt practicing baseball, golf, tennis, working out, cheerleading, and running; surely these American-as-apple-pie activities account for far more injuries than yoga ever will. Yet no one is calling for an end to these sports. Nor should they for yoga.”
 
 
This article focuses on what can happen when people practice yoga to the extreme, pushing themselves beyond what their bodies are designed to do. Injuries occur when students practice in a forceful way that violates functional range of motion, health considerations, or common sense. Ill-informed, aggressive instructors teaching yoga as a purely physical workout only fuel this harmful trend.
 
The first law of yoga is “ahimsa” (non-harming). Students of yoga must assess whether they feel safe with their instructors. They must also take responsibility for their practice and be willing to modify or omit poses, especially if they have injuries or health conditions that require a moderate approach. As yoga teachers, it behooves us to pursue studies that help us teach safely, and to commit to creating a respectful, non-competitive atmosphere through our words, actions and touch.
 
People get hurt practicing baseball, golf, tennis, working out, cheerleading, and running; surely these American-as-apple-pie activities account for far more injuries than yoga ever will. Yet no one is calling for an end to these sports. Nor should they for yoga.”
 
* * * * * * * * * *
 
On a personal note, I want to express my gratitude to some of my most influential teachers, for sharing with me their great knowledge and their unswerving commitment to safe, sensible, highly adaptive yoga, and for supporting me as I share these teachings with others: Mukunda Stiles, Sara Meeks, Adrienne Jamiel, Cheri Clampett, and Leslie Kaminoff. I am most fortunate to have the benefit of their wise guidance.
 
I am also deeply moved that the students who come to Stone Yoga “get it” and enjoy practicing yoga in ways that are respectful of their needs. And I am honored that the teachers I have the privilege to train are deeply committed to teaching safe, sensible yoga to their students. 
 
Yoga DOESN’T Wreck Your Body

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top