Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is yoga safe?

"How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" -- that was the provocative headline on a New York Times article earlier this month. It caused a stir in yoga circles, where instructors and practitioners are passionate about their poses.

"The article...misrepresented information and used extreme situations to make sweeping statements," said Grace Morales, who opened Charlotte Yoga 10 years ago. "As a 15-year teacher, many of the examples did not add up.

"To say you should not practice yoga because you could get hurt is the same as don't run, don't lift weights, give up on movement. That is not the answer...That said there was also a lot of truth. The article exposed dangerous physical alignment, poor choice of postures and a disconnect that can ignore good sense. I have observed the good and bad over the years and the positive health benefits have far outweighed the negative.

"Continuing education is the a large piece of the puzzle. I was taught alignment that was not optimal in my first few trainings, but new research showed a better way. This happens all the time in the health profession, better information leads to new protocol...A certified yoga teacher would be able to respond to this article's sighting of injuries with anatomically sound alternatives, current information and resources. If not, it is time to get more training."

Nancy Nicholson, an instructor who specializes in "gentle yoga," said that much of the yoga taught in America today "puts students at risk due to untrained teachers, teachers who encourage students to push beyond their comfort and safety zone, and due to the lack of mindfulness and attention during practice...

"I teach many older students, up to age 96, and I tell them, just like my younger students, to be aware, to back off if there is discomfort, especially if they don't really know their limits...Yoga means 'the union of mind, body and spirit,' and that union is what keeps us safe, without injury."

Here's a link to the Times' article:


Anonymous said...

Well... I love yoga, but I haven't read the NY Times article either.. I have hip and low back pain, even though I do yoga once a week. Sometimes I feel pushed into poses that are not in proper alignment. I also dislike being touched by strangers for "adjustment." I have tried my best to avoid the teachers and situations that cause unhealthy practices.

Anonymous said...

Pilates with a trained Pilates instructor is better than yoga & safer. I did not like yoga and love Pilates, at least this works for me. Whatever you, get some training. Most of the Y staff (who look like they need training)are awful, you have to pay for trained experts first on your own, then go for it and hope you remember what they taught you!

fitness equipment said...

AeroPilates is fantastic and safe, if you have the space!

Taylor Carpenter said...

The problem related to this article and more so in group training classes is these instructors are not providing individualized attention. As a earlier poster stated, they feel pushed into a uncomfortable position b/c EVERYONE in the group is being taught this. Well you may have a muscle imbalance in your low back, or in your core region, it could be a hip flexor. There are a number of easily recognizable compensations that would make an adequately trained professional be able to progress/regress or perfect your movement patterns. You don't get this training in group settings.

As for yoga and its relationship to stretching. So many people stretch their muscles beyond limitations. Why?! You wake up the next day and are those muscles not in the same tight state as they were the day before causing you to stretch beyond your means again. Find a professional fitness expert that can identify your overactive (short & tight) and underactive (long & weak) muscles through an extensive fitness assessment and then you can have a comprehensive self myofascial release, stretching, workout program designed that fits your individual needs.

I work at Everlasting Changes in Ballantyne which is a private personal training studio specializing in one on one clients but i'd highly recommend any private one on one instructor. You will get the most out of it.

On top of that, RESEARCH YOUR INSTURCTOR/TRAINER. Where did they get their qualifications? You don't want someone messing with your body who doesn't know what they're doing!