Question asked by Monica Foster 2295 days ago

Can yoga wreck your body? Have you read this NY Times article?

What do you all think about this NY Times article about yoga wrecking your body?


Answers (14)

Answered by Karin Singleton 2294 days ago
You can probably replace the term 'yoga' for others when inexperienced instructors teach group exercise classes. Every form of exercise can wreck a body if there is a disconnect between the particular exercise and the person attempting it.

Group exercise is especially tricky because the instructors often know very little about the participants' health history. Usually, we start with a disclaimer, pretty much saying 'if it hurts, don't do it', and then off we go.

I also have to place some blame on the participants themselves. Some approach any form of exercise as a competition, and if the person next to them is doing 'it': by golly, they will, too.

Years ago, I heard an IDEA Presenter say that yoga injuries read like the Monday morning injury report of the NFL. Little has changed, and the article did not surprise me in the least.
Answered by Shawn Fears 2292 days ago
without even reading the article, I can say that ANY exercise or type of exercise class can be bad if the proper modifications aren't used. It has been my experience that a person needs to be an educated consumer and find the right qualified instructor.
Answered by Doug Sklar 2289 days ago
I agree with everyone. The only thing that I might add is that even the best instructors will miss some things (poor form, bad technique, etc.) in a large group setting. All the cueing could be spot on, the instructors knowledge and education could be first class; however when the ratio is 20+ participants to 1 instructor, something is bound to slip by every now and then.

I like to keep my classes to 10 or fewer because of this. If I go higher than that, I like to bring in a second instructor to improve the ratio. Sure I make less money this way, but I feel better knowing my clients are getting the most attention possible in a group setting.

I think that as with any modality of exercise approaching with low intenisity is the best way to start. There have been millions of students who have opted to enjoy the benefits of yoga. It has to be individual and it has to be based on a given client's current capabilities.

Take czre.
i agree small groups are so much is not about the money.. it is about the well-being of your students and their safety...i did not see the article but there is always someone out there ready to find fault...perhaps they need to do yoga and find the true meaning...
Answered by Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali 2295 days ago
Monica, I read the article. The physical therapist mentioned in the article was my physical therapist after I had rotator cuff surgery. He is very good.

However, on another note, I agree that any group fitness class taught by someone who has little knowledge about anatomy and physiology and has not had the proper training is inherently dangerous.

I always felt that there was much risk with yoga and at my studio I do not teach it or offer it. I have seen and trained with way too many clients who have sustained injuries as a consequence of yoga.

This is far from novel to me.

Thanks for the article though.
I think some very key information is also left out of the article. The instructor that was interviewed failed to mention that his back injury came from years of doing EXTREME backbends.

It really should have read yoga instructors with very limited knowledge in anatomy and kinesiology can wreck your body. Unfortunately, some yoga studios look at their YTT as a quick cash cow for their already devoted following. So yeah you get a lot of people who spent upwards of $5K for very little hands-on training with almost no coaching in modifications for postures.

There is also the issue of not everyone knows what different yoga classes entail. Most people think low intensity flows that enhance flexibility. However, Vinyasa schools are HIGH intensity with a lot of powerful movements that can lead to injury for beginners.
I read the article and felt that it was a bit extreme. Any exercise can wreck your body if you aren't yet prepared for it or have done it to the point of getting overuse injuries (such as cardio on an elliptical or treadmill which have long been advocated by the AHA and other nonprofits, weightlifting, swimming, etc.). I agreed with Glenn Black's statement that most individuals should be starting with ROM exercises rather than set poses, because I believe this would lessen many of the potential risks. Obviously folks that have a pre-existing condition or injury could have it exascerbated by trying moves that are beyond their ability. Progressive Overload is most effective when a client can begin with exercises that are safe and fairly comfortable.

I personally love taking yoga classes, although it is one of the practices I'm not yet certified in. I was recently encouraged by an article ACE ran on this very subject. If you're interested it is in the February 2012 issue under "Hazardous Yoga". Even if you're not certified through ACE, you can view the newsletter for free on their website: under Fitness Professional Resources. In it you'll find some of the more controversial poses, arguements for and against each pose, and alternative poses for people that want the benefits of said pose with fewer risks. Hope that helps!
Answered by Susan Dalonzo 2259 days ago
I read the article and heard the interview on MPR. I thought he was very careful to not blame anyone per se, at least in the interview, but I also believe that once things go "mainstream" we see increases in risk and injury.

The shoulder stand has always bothered me, and I agree with his analysis of why it can be harmful, however, it's a standard yoga pose. Like everything else in the industry we need to consider the what's and the why's!!

This brings me back to certification and requirements.
Answered by Adrianne Flinn 2229 days ago
I think a qualified, experienced instructor with smaller class sizes is the way to go. Yoga can be very beneficial if done safely- as with all exercise.
Answered by Bryant Seton 2145 days ago
/agree with many points raised in above comments.

If a class is taught wrong, a group of people are learning wrong mechanical movements that joins and muscles should not attempt.
Answered by Tonia Hayes 2001 days ago
I agree with all of the statements above. In addidition, I particularly like YogaFit training because it follows current exercise recommendations to warm the muscles before you stretch them. I personally have seen many instructors beginning their Yoga sessions with deep stretching before warming the muscles. It is my belief that my Personal Trainer Certification education does make me a safer Yoga Instructor then if I did not have it. Does anyone else have a thought on this?
Answered by Nicholle Bankston 1987 days ago
In answer to Tonia, I'm not yet familiar with YogaFit, but there is definitely a benefit to gradually bringing the muscles from a resting state to a "ready-to-work" state (i.e. the warmup) in every mode of physical activity. The body will adapt to the increase in workload much more effectively in terms of less risk of injury and better range of motion. I agree that a quality PT cert will enhance safety of instruction across modes of group exercise, since you have the anatomy/physiology knowledge base to begin with.
Club Business Industry (CBI) Magazine covered this topic in their May 2013 issue, titled "Under Fire: Yoga and Pilates professionals Rise To The Challenge To Ensure Students' Safety". It's an excellent article addressing the challenge Health & Wellness Professionals must address to keep students safe.
Here is the link to the article:

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