Heated discussions have emerged after the newspaper ran a magazine cover story entitled ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’.
The story is a the first hand experience of the journalist, William J. Broad, meeting Glenn Black, a teacher of a free form style of yoga in Rhinebeck, New York, who believes yoga is damaging.
Broad explains his back gave way while holding a yoga pose. She was practicing to rehabilitate of a ruptured disk in her lower back.
Black tells the journalist, “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether as it’s simply too likely to cause harm.
He blames “urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems.”
Speaking at Yoga Journal’s annual yoga conference, yogi Ana Forrest, 36, who runs a yoga school, had “conflicting feelings.”
She said, “It made me sick to have this practice that has saved my life smeared. On the other hand, I felt sorry for Glen Black and his spinal stenosis. But, also, yoga is a tool and like any tool if you use it incorrectly or inappropriately, you can get injured.”
Roger Cole, an Iyengar teacher in San Diego, puts it simply: “Duh, if you push yourself and do stupid things, you’ll hurt yourself.”
David Swenson, a renowned Ashtanga yoga teacher based in Austin, Texas, was baffled by all the fuss over The Article. “For every one person who is injured doing yoga, there are 10,000 people whose lives are transformed by the practice,” he said.
The number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011.
Black says this reflects an abundance of studios where many teachers lack deep training.
“Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”
Medical evidence shows yoga poses are inherently risky. The first reports of yoga injuries were published decades ago in the journal of Neurology, The British Medical Journal and The Journal of the American Medical Association. The problems ranged from relatively mild injuries to permanent disabilities.
In one case, a male college student, after more than a year of doing yoga, decided to intensify his practice. He would sit upright on his heels in a kneeling position known as vajrasana for hours a day, chanting for world peace. Soon he was experiencing difficulty walking, running and climbing stairs.