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.