As a teenager I dabbled in it, but either injured myself as when I tried a yoga headstand and strained my neck, or began wondering what all that extreme twisting and bending was doing to my joints and ligaments. I watched my dad, a student and teacher of Hatha yoga, who did the positions much better than I could. He also had a lot more determination than I, maybe too much. He would remain in a headstand propped against a wall for quite some time—his face turning bright red. Later I wondered if that had something to do with the Alzheimer’s that overtook him in his late 60s. (Or was it head trauma from boxing as a heavyweight on his college team? No one else in his family ever had Alzheimer’s.) Anyway, he finally did stop doing the extreme lotus because he figured it caused the painful phlebitis (a blood clot in a deep vein of a lower leg) that swelled his lower leg. The lesson here being: don’t do yoga to extremes.
But mostly I’ve heard good things about Yoga from friends. However, a recent article in the New York Times, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, discusses the small but growing numbers of serious injuries to the lower back, shoulder, knee and neck. Glenn Black, a well known New York instructor states that injuries occur because students have underlying weaknesses that need to be addressed first. Also mentioned is Yoga Instructor, Carol Krucoff, who tore a hamstring muscle while being filmed doing Kitchen Yoga for a national TV show. See Insight from injury: If the practice of hatha yoga was meant to heal, why are so many yogis getting hurt? Instructor Glenn Black in another interview, Yogi Glenn Black Responds to New York Times Article on Yoga, lists pinched nerves in the neck, low back tightness, injuries to hips, knees and shoulder problems and also which yoga poses to avoid. And most disturbing of all:

EF: You now have a spinal fusion and screws in your lower lumbar spine to stabilize herniated discs and spondylolisthesis. How did your own yoga injuries come about?

Glen Black: Extreme backbends, and twisting coming up from my hands on my ankles. I overstretched my ligaments and destabilized my spine.


But any sport or activity done to extremes can cause injury. See: Practicing Safe Yoga — 5 Tips to Avoid Injuries by Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.

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One Response to Yoga

  1. Rochelle says:

    Don’t Get Injured! 7 Yoga Poses That Can Do More Harm Than Good

    Good Article by Dr. Annie Neisen, physical therapist
    1) Splits – Risk of tearing of hamstring muscle and overstretching tendons and ligments.
    2) Compass Pose – Leg should not be behind the head. Hip joint ligaments become overstretched. “femur bone knocks into your hip bone”
    3) Deep Squats – risk of knee strain and damage
    4) Shoulder Binds – The shoulder joint allows great mobility but is a very shallow joint held together by capsule, ligaments and rotator cuff muscles. Some yogi poses risk overstretching the shoulder joint and capsule making for more instability, risking damage.
    5) Deep Backbends – too much compression on vertebral facet joints where the nerve roots leave the vertebra from the spinal cord.
    6) Spinal Twists – Parts of the spine like the thoracic have limited mobility due to rib cage. Most mobility is due to cervical spine. Forcing the spine to twist beyond anatomical limits over-stretches ligaments.
    7) Headstands or Shoulder Stands – Puts head and neck in a position where it supports weight of the body, not what it was not designed to do.

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