This article by William J. Broad, an author and a Senior Writer at The New York Times “The Science Of Yoga”
THIS is what got me… “It can lower blood pressure, spice up sex — and kill you.”
According to William- “Pulitzer Prize winning science writer and investigative reporter at The New York Times. Broad, 60, a longtime yoga practitioner” He speaks about the risks and rewards of yoga.
However, I have a few opinions of my own about what he’s written.
The VERY first thing he speaks on is “By far, the number one myth is that yoga is safe” He mentions poses that are harmful to the body and restrict the neck in ways that produce strokes and can lead to death. I will say that YES, there are SOME poses that if done irresponsibly, they CAN be harmful…but so can driving your car, playing baseball or jogging.
When starting something new, like an exercise routine, especially if you haven’t done it before you must be SMART about it and use common sense. Doing yoga and pushing yourself into postures you haven’t done before ISN’T smart and will lead to injuries! Being careless and not listening to what your body is saying to you EACH class (as every day is and will be different) can be harmful to your muscles, joints and skeletal system. I feel William missed touching on this completely as THIS is the reason why yoga can harmful.
He speaks on two ADVANCED poses. Shoulder stand and Plow. During my training, we didn’t get into these poses until the end when we had established most and/or full ROM (range of motion) of our shoulders, backs and necks that allowed us to perform these without the threat of injuries. In addition to already being flexible and advanced students we used plenty of props and had lots of support from each other, and our mentors. We were told to only move forward with supervision and to also listen to our bodies and how they responded to the poses. Some students moved into the full advanced posture and some didn’t need to as they already obtained the benefits of the posture by not going into the final stance. Personally, as a yoga instructor, I would NEVER teach these two poses to a class of beginners or even a class over 10 people as its too difficult and along with time restraints to make sure I’m getting to everyone for assistance and/or questions. These are two poses that require a LOT of attention to detail and supervision. If done wrong, or negligently, you ARE putting yourself at risk.
If you’ve ever gone to a studio before, you’re aware of the release form you must sign before practicing. This basically ensures you don’t sue if something should happen to you. This shouldn’t be looked as that you WILL hurt yourself, but because yoga is something that takes full concentration and requires you to completely tune into your inner mind and body; you need to be AWARE and present. You DO have to take full responsibility of yourself and know when to back off if something doesn’t feel right or hurts. As a yoga instructor we’re not always able to get to everyone in the class to assist where and when needed. You need to be vocal if something doesn’t feel right. Make sure the teacher is aware of all your past and present injuries as well. Last but not least, please understand that everyone is different so what you feel in your body may not be felt by someone else, along with flexibility and strength. YOGA SHOULDN’T HURT! If it does, you need to back off. It’s not a competition and no one is judging you.
He mentions how Yoga prolonging your life is “sketchy” Again; I believe it 100% can. Look at being healthy as a whole. If you’re exercising, and eating right, you’re going to live longer than those who simply aren’t practicing a healthy lifestyle. Those who practice yoga tend to be a little more health conscious than those who are just going to the gym. It’s typically a lifestyle than just another method of exercise. A lot of it has to do with how Yogi’s are portrayed by media and culture. I’m not saying everyone’s like that…as I am no vegetarian, but it’s usually the case. Studies show…these people live longer.
This was about the only thing I completely 100% agree with as it’s something I’ve been telling men for a while now. William writes: “Researchers at Rutgers University looked at their scans — their brains lit up in ways identified with sexual orgasm — and without messing with their private parts. I say, throw away the little blue pills, guys. And get to a yoga studio.” How many blogs have I done on THIS VERY SUBJECT?!?!
“Is yoga good for losing weight? No. That’s a big myth.”
Are you joking? I dare you to go do HOT Power Yoga (Vinyasa) for a week and NOT lose weight. Power yoga is faster paced style where poses are held for a predefined length of breaths and turns static postures into a dynamic flow. Of course a well-balanced diet is also needed for weight loss to occur, but yoga DOES help with streamlining, toning and with any exercise increased muscle which aids more calories being burned throughout the day. Really it all comes down to WHAT your intentions are. I wouldn’t recommend JUST a yoga practice to someone who is considerably overweight looking to specifically lose weight, but if you have a strong Pranayama practice coupled with a strong Vinyasa practice, you will find that lung capacity and oxygen/gas conversion and an elevated heart rate are greatly improved and will have beneficial results on the cardiorespiratory system.
Everyone has their own opinion at the end of the day. I personally haven’t won any Pulitzer Prizes or a Dupont…YET…so really at the end of the day, who am I to question THIS guy; but like him, I have my own opinions. I guess overall I just wish he would have spoken on WHY you can injure yourself from yoga. You shouldn’t tell people “You can DIE from Yoga!!!” and not tell them what the reasons for saying those things. We know that if we’re irresponsible when we’re driving our car…we can die! So we drive the speed limits, wear our seatbelts and we’re responsible (some of us) with our lives, you’re taught this. Same goes go yoga. If you’re NOT careful…you will hurt yourself and as a student, you need to know the HOW’s & WHY’s.
One of my goals is to get MORE people to practice yoga as I am a firm believer in its benefits and overall experience. I’ve said this many times in previous posts and I’ll mention it again. You should always make sure you’re going slow and being gentle with your body when starting a new exercise routine such as yoga. The teachers/instructors are there to help and guide you. Please take them up on their suggestions to speak with them one on one about you and your body. Never be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS as someone maybe thinking the same thing.
I’m done venting…Have a happy, healthy and SAFE practice everyone!