Thursday, November 20, 2008

Does Yoga Harm Your Body?

Here is a beautiful list of 77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga. And now that you've read about these, let's even out the debate often brought up - Does Yoga Harm Your Body? Me, I think NO! Personally (for my own body) and professionally (from seeing changes in my students) I am constantly amazed at the wonder of yoga to change a body, to strengthen it and create a happy being. But like any sport - if you don't do it correctly, of course you can injure yourself. Read about the ideas on both sides. What do you think? There is such a strong lineage in yoga - a 5000 year old tradition - that all the poses are safe and tried and tested. I can clearly see how people injure themselves, especially when I see these people turning their necks when in shoulderstand, or flipping up into backbends when they don't have the core strength. But yoga - done correctly and appropriately - will not harm your body. In fact, I'm tempted to say you could do more harm NOT practicing yoga, as YOGA will give your spirit, mind and body a complete lift and overhaul.
Namaste x

7 comments:

Linda Sama said...

I know many long-time yoga teachers who deal with chronic injuries from yoga, believe it or not. many are astangis. one of my teachers (well-known here) dealt with a back issue for 10 years. even the famous teachers get injured and deal with chronic injuries, believe me.

in my experience, beginners never get hurt because they fear going to their edge or they are just too stiff and tight -- they don't move enough to get hurt; injuries start occurring between years 3 and 5 for many dedicated practitioners.

that being said, I would rather wake up stiff and sore everyday, do yoga, and be comfortable and be able to move than wake up stiff and sore, NOT do yoga, and NOT be able to move.

Jenn said...

The opposing views arguments were interesting to read. As a devoted yogini myself, I wanted to react strongly to all of the supporting statements that said "yes, yoga is harmful." But I do see their points in many instances.

I think the general question, as is seen in the responses, is broad in nature. I agree with some of what the main "against yoga" expert had to say. That being said, I think it's unfair to generalize a proven practice and to group all yoga instructors together as potentially harmful for your health.

I myself have had great experiences with PTs, such as the one who helped me rehab after a broken ankle. I've also had one very bad experience with a PT who did something (and he admitted that it was his fault) that was the initial cause of my now chronic SI joint problem/pain. Even so, today I work with, and I teach in several of my classes, PTs. I very much appreciate their knowledge and expertise, as they do mine.

It's not black or white. In this case there are many, many shades of gray.

Ravi @ The Yoga Salon said...

We can harm ourselves doing anything...including walking down the street or using a computer, such innocent activities!

So yes, yoga could be harmful....but the benefits are also sizeable as well...and if the practitioner is self aware and honors the boundaries set by their body...they are bound to have an experience that is not injurious.

KL- Prana Flow NZ said...

Does yoga harm the body?

Or does the way yoga is applied harm the body?

Big differennce :)

Like many, yoga has helped me heal a chronic back injury, and I absolutely love it. i know there is the possibility of harming myself in postures - by pushing too hard at the wrong time, by not being mindful, by wanting to achieve... but this is not the yoga creating all of this... this is my ego.

So does yoga harm the body?

No.

Our ego does :)

Pink Heels said...

As with everything in life, having balance is important. Moderation is key. I have experienced injuries that are directly related from doing too much yoga. Am I going to stop? No. Am I more conscious about how much yoga I participate in? Yes.

Kristin said...

I completely agree with what you said here, "...the wonder of yoga to change a body, to strengthen it, and create a happy being. But like any sport - if you don't do it correctly, of course you can injure yourself."

But I politely disagree with "...that all the poses are safe, tried and tested." Tried and tested, yes, safe? Not always.

Linda Sama noted: "In my experience, beginners never get hurt because they fear going to their edge or they are just too stiff and tight -- they don't move enough to get hurt; injuries start occurring between years 3 and 5 for many dedicated practitioners."

And maybe this is because I practice and teach vinyasa flow and ashtanga, but I do have beginners who have hurt themselves because they want to do *THAT* pose *RIGHT NOW* when they are not ready for it - and I can talk till I am blue in the face about pacing oneself and leveling the poses and moving into a new pose gradually and even demonstrating where they need to work...and some students just don't listen.

I do think that you will also see more injuries in the ashtanga tradition amongst long time practitioners (who you would think would know when to adapt) - most common I've seen are knee, shoulder and wrist issues.

Interesting topic. Thanks for posting.

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