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Yoga Can Cause Injury, New York Times Article Says

Have You Ever Injured Yourself From Yoga?

Yoga is generally seen as a therapeutic practice that can alleviate pain from previous injuries and help prevent new ones. But a recent article from The New York Times Magazine highlights the practice as something quite different — yoga can wreck your body. The stories are scary and cautionary: healthy, advanced yogis having strokes, breaking ribs, and experiencing permanent disabilities because of hyperextended joints, prolonged inversions, and too-deep spinal twists.

The problem isn't just that inexperienced people are incorrectly doing the poses, but also that certain poses are risky, especially when they are done for many years at increased flexibility, without regard to your body's limits. Timothy McCall, the medical editor of the Yoga Journal, even calls the basic headstand pose too dangerous to be taught in most yoga classes, and yogi Glenn Black, who had to have spinal surgery to correct injuries he says he got from 40 years of practice, says that "the vast majority of people" (including many yoga teachers) shouldn't be practicing yoga at all because their bodies can't take it.

The article is a good reminder to check your ego at the studio door and don't push yourself over what your body can handle (and never compete with the room!). "If you do [yoga] with ego or obsession, you'll end up causing problems," Black says. I've found that most teachers make sure to tell their students this. When I took a beginner yoga series at my neighborhood studio, my instructor asked all of us newbies before we started if we had any preexisting injuries and cautioned that some poses would have to be modified to ensure that no one would make their injuries worse, and most importantly, to stop immediately if we experienced any pain or discomfort.

What about you? Have any of you ever been injured from practicing yoga? Tell us the pose you think caused your injury in the comments section below.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
Nanachan Nanachan 4 years
I don't think I've ever really hurt myself badly in yoga. I started a year ago, my roommate took me to a class, and the first thing i really had to engrain in my head was that i cannot compete with the class, and that was hard considering i'm an incredibly competitive person. But i would close my eyes and go through the motions. Forrest was my preferred class because it was less "showy" poses and more just holding simple ones. I think the worst injury i've ever obtained was maybe a pulled muscle in my pectoral area. Its true what they say in the class, you have to listen to your body, and if your body is saying "NO", then its important to respect that.
Ducker Ducker 4 years
The NYT article could be a useful teaching tool for health care professionals who may not be aware of yoga injury risks and serve as a reminder for yoga teachers and studio owners to advise students to attend appropriate level /types of classes and to suggest precautions based in individuals' existing injuries or health conditions. I know that I had a mini-stroke after a vinyasa yoga class. I was struggling with uncontrolled hypertension due to medication issues at the time.) I could not convince my various health care providers. This article validates what I know as "my truth".
mydiadem mydiadem 4 years
My chiropractor says that yoga instructors are just as common among his patients as those that work in construction, and are in there moreso than runners.
ripped25 ripped25 4 years
Here's a little story: I started doing hot yoga at a popular place, having no background but being very physically active prior. Went a few times, didn't do any particularly difficult poses. First time after starting Bikram that I went for a run, I ruptured a ligament in my ankle from just stepping funny. I mean the entire ankle just gave out to the side, and I had no prior injuries to that leg, foot, or ankle. I 100% blame the bikram for loosening the ligaments in my ankle, leaving them unable to take a minor degree of torque, and putting me on crutches for the following 2 months. The ligament just barely survived thankfully and fortunately has healed. I am now only beginning to regain basic balance in the leg and hope I can run by the spring. Certainly lost my ski season. Maybe the point is to avoid hot yoga if you play other sports. Maybe if you're athletic in the first place, yoga is not a good choice. Hard to say.
MDBurgos MDBurgos 4 years
I have not injured myself in Yoga or Pilates, but like Susi I suffered an injury in another life (as an athlete). From then on, I became extremely conscious of movement and body limitations. Unfortunately for many students and trainers, ego does play a part, but so does ignorance. Everyone needs to stay abreast of the latest science and the latest knowledge about what is good and bad for you. And you have to listen to your gut: If you sense it's wrong (because it hurts or because your brain says, "Whoa, Nellie!"), then it is wrong.
Susi-May Susi-May 4 years
I have never injured myself in yoga, but worked with a few Pilates clients that hurt their neck in headstand. Having injured my neck dancing in my 20s, that's a pose I have learned to avoid in my personal practice.
confessionsred confessionsred 4 years
I've been suffering from a bad knee injury, which happened right after a yoga teacher pushed me too far into Pigeon Pose. I love yoga, and it's been frustrating to be on a time-out for over two months. If the injury continues, my doctor tells me I will require ultrasounds and physiotherapy. A former yoga teacher of mine brought up the issue of injury and best practices—in the form of a stronger structure for yoga teacher certification and training—at a seminar during Yoga Festival Toronto. He called for higher standards—peer review, exams, etc.—in the yoga community. Food for thought.
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