By now, many yoga enthusiasts are well aware of the informative article “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” written by author William J. Broad, published early last year in the New York Times. While the article stated that yoga may not be appropriate for certain populations, it also carved out a few well-appointed reasons how yoga can actually do more harm, than good.
The “Wounded Warrior Pose,” which is Broad’s latest cautionary piece, highlights not just the inherent dangers of yoga, but of yoga for men specifically. Listing injury statistics and several educated comments from a handful of related experts, Broad paints another hazardous picture of yoga.
Injuries are apparent in any physical endeavor from walking to race car driving. The majority of people might have a hard time believing that an activity as gentle as yoga could be hurtful, but the reality is, yoga is not appropriate for everyone.
The following are a few bits of sound advice that may help men (and women) avoid injuries in a yoga class.
Take the proper class
Yoga styles are like snowflakes; there are no two alike. Before you take a class, read the description or talk to the instructor to determine if it is a good fit. As a beginner, you definitely want to avoid a class that serves advanced students. Even though yoga may conjure up an image of lithe people stretching, the reality is that it can be hard-core and extremely difficult.
Listen to the options
It is tempting to just do what everyone else in class is doing, but options are given and modifications are shown for a reason. If your yoga instructor has learned of your history of injuries, perhaps the options he or she is giving are designed to meet your specific needs. Do not ignore them.
One of the mysteries of yoga is that while we might not feel like we worked very hard on the mat in last night’s class, we’re almost guaranteed to feel muscles we didn’t know we had by morning. Yoga asanas, or poses, can greatly impact the musculoskeletal system at a very deep level. The effects are not always felt immediately, so it is best to leave class feeling like you could have done a little bit more. Until you fully realize how far you can safely push your limits, tread lightly.
Practice the basics
Even star athletes start with the basics when learning a new skill. Yoga is a multidimensional practice with a lot to learn and remember. If the Sanskrit pose names aren’t confusing enough, there are chakras, bandhas, and dristis to contend with. Practice with a beginner’s mind and focus on the most important thing first: your safety. Turn your awareness to your own body; take care of it as best as you can, and vow to learn about the other aspects of yoga when you feel ready.