This article has been at or near the top of the New York Times most emailed articles since it was published last week: How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, adapted from a forthcoming book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards, by William J. Broad:
Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm. Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable.
Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”
Four years ago, I blogged about my back in a post titled Geezer report: how a trip to the Northfield Library ended my 20-year struggle with low back pain. I found relief in a book titled Back RX : a fifteen-minute-a-day Yoga-and Pilates-based program to end low back pain forever, by Vijay Vad. I still do the exercises three-times a week.
But even Dr. Vad has a warning about yoga and Pilates (excerpt from this web site):
The paradox is that although yoga and Pilates are ultimately the best possible way to maximize back health, in the short run the vigorous twists, turns, and bends of advanced yoga and Pilates can actually cause back injuries.
It’s quite a catch-22: the very thing that can help you the most can very easily hurt you. Back Rx solves this problem with a carefully sequenced introduction of yoga- and Pilates-based movements and poses that will strengthen the back without traumatizing it.
I’ve heard horror stories from fellow Northfielders who’ve been injured at local yoga and Pilates classes. I’m not interested in ‘outing’ any local instructors or classes so if you comment on this blog post, please refrain from using names.