Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

May 24, 2012

Yoga Risks and Rewards

As you may know I have often said that all the benefits of Yoga are also benefits of Tai chi and visa versa (Yoga doesn’t offer the self defense skills but otherwise they convey the same benefits.) Here is the dark side of Yoga. Bottom line: be careful and get a good teacher. That advice applies to Tai chi as well but the risks are not anywhere near as great.

On January 5, 2012 this article in the New York Times talked about the dangers of Yoga practice. It is an article adapted from “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards,” by William J. Broad.

William J. Broad is a  journalist and yoga practitioner of forty years. His book describes some of the health concerns about the practice of yoga, particularly in terms of musculoskeletal injuries and risk of stroke.

Dr. Malic Slosberg reviews that article this month in his Research Review newsletter. Here is his commentary:

Commentary: This article describes the benefits and risks of yoga including controversial topics related to back injury, neck injury, and strokes. The explanation that sedentary Americans, sitting 70- 80% of their waking hours saunter into yoga studios a few times a week and are then encouraged to push their bodies beyond the physiologic limits of motion into awkward and possibly dangerous extremes of hyperflexion or extension in various asanas makes sense. In an attempt to achieve perform some yogic postures are, indeed, risky and may force connective tissues to the point of damage to collagen fibers in discs, ligaments, joint capsules, tendons, and blood vessels. The following images of cervical hyperflexion in the shoulder stand, lumbar hyperflexion in the forward bend, and thoracic hyperflexion in the plough illustrate the possibly perilous extremes practitioners are encouraged to attain.

Here I commented on that lumbar hyperflexion and the recommendations in an article in the Yoga Journal.

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8 Comments »

  1. Thanks Doc, points well taken. Here is a thought regarding this controversy.
    The Yoga practitioner must understands that Yoga is not a competitive sport if he/she wants to remain injury free. In the past, I have usually hurt myself during attempts to “show off” or “brag” and not only at Yoga practice. Skiing, Taekwon do, Running, Biking, Lifting. whatever form of sport, we will ultimately be faced with the undeniable reality that we are aging and that, aside of accepting the fact that we need regular chiropractic care, we should learn to maintain a degree of balance, flexibility, core conditionning, and a general state of physical and mental alertness while denying the usually risky manifestation of Ego.
    I will not make the front page of Yoga Magazine and I’m OK with that.
    As my Yoga teacher says: “If your face looks like you slammed your finger in the car door, you are working too hard”. Stay relaxed, breathe, try your best and don’t focus on the “gumby” next to you 😉

    Comment by Pierre — May 25, 2012 @ 5:05 am

  2. I always tell my students yoga isn’t a competitive sport and to back off any time a posture starts to hurt or feel wrong but boy getting people to actually do that is a different question. A lot of the stuff that’s being called yoga out there I think of as barely yoga and I fight all the time against the bad experiences people have had in other yoga classes that leave them fearful and not believing that I don’t want them to do anything that hurts. I think most of the yoga injuries come from people doing modernized stuff that isn’t really yoga and from teachers who aren’t well trained and/or don’t know the basics of traditional yoga.

    Comment by yogaleigh — May 25, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

  3. We run into all the same issues all the time in Chiropractic and in tai chi Yogaleigh. We just do the best we can do to model and teach. The rest is out of our hands. Thanks for commenting.

    Comment by DrD — May 25, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

  4. […] practice learning and doing, such as Tai Chi classes – not so much Yoga now the some of the risks are being […]

    Pingback by Back Pain, Chiropractic & The “Injury Model” « Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — September 10, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  5. […] practice learning and doing, such as Tai Chi classes – not so much Yoga now the some of the risks are being […]

    Pingback by Back Pain, Chiropractic & The “Injury Model” – Everett Chiropractic « back pain — September 11, 2012 @ 1:01 am

  6. […] We’ve heard a lot lately about the risks of Yoga. […]

    Pingback by TED Back Pain Exercise « Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — October 1, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  7. […] We’ve heard a lot lately about the risks of Yoga. […]

    Pingback by TED Back Pain Exercise « Back To Life Chiropractic — October 2, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  8. […] folks). There are risks, more actually with Yoga than Tai Chi, a fact made known not long ago with this book. Still Yoga is much more accessible, more easily copied, and generally a safer choice if you have […]

    Pingback by Yogachi? Not A Chance! | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — December 25, 2014 @ 10:39 am


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