New York Times Debate: Can Yoga Wreck your Body?

11 Jan

The New York Times recently ran an article called, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”. The Times Interviewed Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades, whose devoted clientele includes a number of celebrities and prominent gurus. The article points out the fact that yoga can harm as well as heal. This statement seems to incite many yogis around the globe.

Summed up: The Times suggests that the intricate architectures of yoga poses are potentially destructive if the body is unconscious of its own blind spots or minor injuries.

My Two Cents: I believe this argument can be made for any type of physical activity. Whether it be a new runner who pushes their stride length out just a little too much and tears their hamstring, or a first time step class participant who improperly judges the height of their stepper and face plants into their mat. Yoga is no exception to general exercise.

Guru Black believes that, “yoga is for people [already] in good physical condition.. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.” He makes an interesting argument here. When Yoga was invented 3,000 years ago, human beings were living very differently than the majority of us are now. Contrary to the popular paleo diet our lives now pose different demands and therefore have different exercise and dietary needs. News Flash: We are no longer cavemen. We therefore shouldn’t crave out an hour or two a week of our lives pretending like we still are. Most people after a yoga class will go back to their offices or homes and sit for hours, later they will likely go to the grocery store or down the street for dinner instead of hunting for it. Instead of only doing a yoga class here and there we would be better off working on general fitness before attempting some of the more difficult postures.
I agree with Black here: yoga for beginners, on it’s own without a general fitness base, could be harmful without proper instruction. Yoga is very difficult to do properly, the instructor plays a major role in the safety and enjoyment of a class. As I have become more fit over the years I’ve noticed more benefits from my yoga practice then when I started. It took me about a year of practice to actually understand the nuances of each posture and I don’t think I’ll ever master it! With yoga, the devil is certainly in the details.

Bottom Line: Yoga is a great addition to a training regime but it is important to mix it in and have other sources of exercise to create a balanced, injury-free, beautiful body.

If this video doesn’t inspire you to get fit and do yoga nothing will!

Here are some FREE Yoga class video links that I like to do when I can’t get to a class.

When you are at home resist the temptation to have your blackberry on your mat, I’ve tried and it’s totally throws off your chi!

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