Most of us tend to think of Yoga as a New Wave, gentle, and physically safe form of exercise. The New York Times magazine has an article that reminds us that isn’t always the case. In fact, yoga can cause serious injury.
The article notes that yoga has been associated with lower back, shoulder, knee, and neck injuries and even more serious problems such as stroke, ruptured Achilles tendons, and nerve and brain damage. It appears that many of the injuries come from overdoing it, by trying to achieve even more contorted positions, or holding poses for extreme lengths of time, or maintaining a neck-based position on a hardwood floor. Some of the more extreme forms of “yoga” that are offered these days — like the “hot yoga” classes that one of our good friends takes — are an example of how Americans often try to push the envelope with exercise regimens. Sometimes, unfortunately, we push through the envelope and cause serious injury and long-term physical damage.
The lessons of yoga injuries are especially pertinent now, with New Year’s Day just behind us and many of us having resolved to lose the weight we gained over the holidays and a bit more, besides. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but easy does it is a good rule of thumb — particularly for those of us who are older and have been desk-bound for years. Rather than trying to immediately run five miles, or to achieve yoga positions that master yogis can only dream of, why not focus instead on eating and drinking less, cutting back on fatty or calorie-laden foods, and lengthening that morning walk and adding a short evening walk, too?