muck_a_luck: (Yoga Namaste Two)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck posting in [community profile] sun_salutation
I came across this guy's article the other day. How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. Also, he is selling a book.

It is certainly a valid point that one should practice with care and non-violence toward self.

Not sure what else I think about this, though. Discuss?

Date: 2012-01-10 08:32 pm (UTC)
recessional: a woman in a yoga pose (personal; just breathe)
From: [personal profile] recessional
I think there's a certain amount of scare-mongering and "AHAH!" in it, because that makes good copy.

Pretty much every physical movement we do (and certainly avoiding physical movement) comes with certain inherent risks. There are low-impact forms of physicality, but there are no no-impact ones: you can break your ankle taking an easy walk (and many people often do), etc, etc. And there's always a certain amount of dice-rolling, because what your genetics and history hand you as far as body-issues go is not always apparent.

I think in this case, the added dimension is yoga's undeserved reputation for being "safe" and "gentle" and all that crap. In terms of the MOVEMENTS, the physical reality of the poses, etc, yoga is prep for contortions. It's a kind of gymnastics. It's dance. If this article were telling us that dancers get popped hamstrings or torn achilles tendons, or that gymnasts suffer neck injuries, or that contortionists can get into joint problems, we'd be going " . . . duh?"

And runners sometimes have bad knees, and skiers wind up with the occasional head injury or broken neck, swimmers inhale water, and people who don't do any exercise at all have their own well-documented health-problems.

But we're sold the idea that yoga is inherently safe and body-wise just by being yoga, so finding out it isn't seems shocking. And many, many of the people leading yoga classes, especially in commercialised chains or environments, combine the ego and demands-for-fitness-outcomes of an aerobics class with the blithe idea that yoga is inherently good and nurturing, and the result is . . . .bad things!

I also eyebrow raised at some of the examples. Such as:

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.

No shit? Really? Sitting in one strenuous position for hours a day is bad for you? Say it ain't so! I raise my eyebrows both at the presentation of this as an example of YOGA IS BAD and as an example, in the fact that the guy did it, of the deceptive idea of yoga's magic-wand goodness. This is not an example of yoga-is-bad: this is an example of doing something that stupid with your body is, in fact, stupid. That it's a yoga pose does not change the fact that you're sitting still for hours and hours on end, which is NEVER good for your body. (Your body gets restless and repositions itself without asking you for a reason. It is nerves and muscles and other things going "by the way, we're getting tired of this position".)

It's as if "yoga" is a magic word that means people's common sense and anatomy knowledge go out of their heads. And then the backlash is articles like this, which go, AHAH! IT IS NOT MAGICALLY OKAY!

Well, no, it's not. It's like any other form of body movement. Practice it with common sense, LISTEN to your body, check your ego, but also don't panic just because some people get injured doing something: some people get injured doing ANYTHING. If you go to a studio, check out your teachers' credentials. Listen to their styles, and whether they're sufficiently emphatic about that listening to your body and avoiding damage. Try to make sure that at least ONE teacher at the studio has extensive body-knowledge. (I was lucky enough that two at my last studio were physios. I miss them.)

And, you know. Play reeeeeally carefully with the neck and head-stressing poses.

Date: 2012-01-10 11:50 pm (UTC)
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
I don't know whether to call the article deliberately misleading or simply accuse the author of lack of thought, really. I actually read a much more balanced article drawing attention to this same issue three, maybe four years ago - it might have been in Maclean's? It was in some magazine my parents used to get, anyway.

Yes - yoga can definitely get you into positions (literally) that are more vulnerable to potential issues and injuries than ones from other body-training. Which is why when I do recommend it for friends it's with huge caveats of "go to good classes first, and here's how to tell if the class-leader is not a safe one." (They may be WONDERFUL PEOPLE, but not safe yoga teachers).

But I also come at yoga from a childhood and adolescence of competitive dance wherein I danced with girls so flexible that various important things in their hips would occasionally wind up in the wrong position around the bone. And people danced on broken feet and with broken ribs and with knee braces. So, you know. Only 46 ER visits out of tens of millions of people doing it? We had three ER visits in one year from a hundred and fifty people in a dance studio. :P Come back when your numbers are REALLY scary.

Date: 2012-01-11 03:30 am (UTC)
0jack: Closeup of Boba Fett's helmet, angular orange stripe surrounding a narrow window on a greenish metallic field. (Default)
From: [personal profile] 0jack
I agree with you. And people have to realize that being flexible is good—to a point. It's possible to be over-flexible, to destabilize one's joints. Your body doesn't just stop getting more flexible at some magical point. You should know how your body works. That's part of being well.

As for doing something stupid with your body... I know more than one person who has serious RSI from playing computer games or being online too much. They'll be on disability or have to do physio indefinitely just in order to do basic work. So. Yeah. Everything's bad for you if you do it enough. I have almost no feeling in my right index fingertip from spray painting. :p

Date: 2012-01-11 03:54 am (UTC)
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
It's possible to be over-flexible, to destabilize one's joints.

cf note above about coming at this from a childhood at a dance studio!

And one person's destabilized joints is another person's "look I am best contortionist ever!" Bodies: bitchy like that.

Everything's bad for you if you do it enough.

Especially nothing. *solemn* It's almost like our bodies were hamfistedly designed by evolution to move about in various different ways at various different times!

Date: 2012-01-11 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] indywind
Now I don't need to say anything because [personal profile] recessional covered it. :-)

Date: 2012-01-10 09:11 pm (UTC)
drunkoffthestars: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drunkoffthestars
I mostly took away what I mostly already knew: I should be careful with upsidedown/neck stuff (which I don't really do anyway), and to be gentle with my body.

Date: 2012-01-10 09:39 pm (UTC)
sleuth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sleuth
I think [personal profile] recessional's comment aptly addressed the issues from the article.

Everything in life has its problems but it's how we deal with them that makes all the difference.

News-articles generally tend to do a fair bit of fearmongering for things that are supposed to be good/healthy. I think they take it to such an extreme that it seems silly.

It's like saying everyone should be wary of sleep because some people suffer from sleep apnea. Or have died in their sleep. Or any other ailment that happens from sleeping.

Yes, if you have an underlying condition, you need to be careful. You need to take care of yourself, but that doesn't exclude you from partaking in things that can have an overall good effect on you.

It's not about taking it from one extreme to the other.

Date: 2012-01-10 10:32 pm (UTC)
panda: drawing of a panda sitting in a tea cup which has fallen over on its side (yoga: touch the sky)
From: [personal profile] panda
1. thirding what everyone has said before me

2. I think it is incredibly disingenuous that the article is illustrated by actors from a Brodway play (why?) attempting to do poses the article has listed as dangerous, and that they are clearly not flexible enough to attempt, while making face of pain. It's sensationalistic.

3. what I would be actually interest in reading is an assessment of the safety of taking yoga in a class with an experienced instructor, vs doing DVDs at home. I bet improperly aligned poses are much more dangerous. It would also be more beneficial to talk about types of yoga teacher certifications, and how to know if your instructor is actually educated in physiology and how to prevent injury.

4. he makes it sound like this is some hidden menace that the greater yoga community tries to hide from people while pretending yoga is sweetness and light, but I googled 'yoga injury' and got 22,700,000 hits. The top hits are all about preventing yoga injury.

5. this was already mentioned, but running has a waaaaay higher injury rate, and no one's going 'don't run!' Instead use common sense, educate yourself, and make sure you're running safely. It's the same with yoga.

6. he's got a book to sell, and nothing sells like fearmongering. The article is a good reminder to be careful and listen to your body, but other than that I'm not really impressed.

Date: 2012-01-10 11:41 pm (UTC)
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
Re: 4 - it's definitely not some big conspiracy, but a lot of people really ARE misinformed about yoga as a literal physical stress on the body; I've had arguments that got near to shouting with people who are convinced that because it's yoga, it's safe, or who have been offered yoga as a "safer, gentler" alternative to aerobics or something else. And friends who have relayed the behaviour of an instructor and had me yelp at them to never go to that studio again, because homgwtf dangerous and NO.

So if you're in the right environment, it can seem like a happy-happy sweetness-light vein does permeate everything, google hits notwithstanding.

Date: 2012-01-11 10:56 am (UTC)
rydra_wong: a yoga practitioner does a jump through, the motion turning into a blur (yoga -- jump through)
From: [personal profile] rydra_wong
There's another good response here, which (among other things) suggests that Broad's book is far more nuanced than the article:

I've pre-ordered the book; it'll be interesting to see what it turns out to be like.

Date: 2012-01-12 01:58 pm (UTC)
viklikesfic: avatar me w/ trans flag, spiky hair, gender unclear, fun punky glasses & sarcastic expression to go w/purple ironic halo (Default)
From: [personal profile] viklikesfic
I pretty much agree with what's already been said. I started yoga for mental health and to improve my flexibility after years of frustration as an inflexible dancer. My hope is that at 35 I'll be more flexible than I was at 20--but I also don't want to get to the really extreme poses. I'm sure those can be done safely with a good teacher checking your alignment, efc., and I admit sometimes they're tempting to reach for as an eventual party trick, but of course there are dangers. I think a lot of the problem here is rushing. In most yoga download classes, for example, in standing forward bend the instructor isn't clear that you shouldn't bend your back. The instinct is to reeeeach for the toes, but I learned from Cool Yoga Tricks after someone here recced it that you should keep your back straight until you can stretch all the way forward. When I do the pose you'd have no idea that I'm stretching from looking at me, but I've commited to a very gradual forward trajectory. Similarly, I know that I CAN get into plow, but there's no reason to at this point.


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