Your Yoga Workout May Be More Dangerous Than You Think


yogaI wish Bob Harper was my personal trainer. But I'll take his DVDs as a consolation. My fave is his Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga, and my fave part is when he says something about how he laughs when people tell him they don't "get a real workout out of yoga." It's at the very point in the DVD when you've basically got sweat dripping off your face, and you're breathing pretty damn hard -- but hopefully correctly! Point taken, Bob!

Yoga can be a real workout, helping you burn calories and get "nice, long, lean muscles" (Bob's words). But The New York Times Magazine recently ran an article entitled, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body," and the takeaway for me was that a.) it isn't for everyone and b.) there's a proper way to do it ... Unfortunately, more times than not, that is not the way certain fitness gurus who have decided to jump on the yoga bandwagon do it. (Ahem, Jillian Michaels, P90X, I'm looking at you!) 

I'll get back to Jillian and P90X's unnecessarily hardcore takes in a sec.

But first let me say ... I've had an on again, off again love affair with yoga. When I lived in NYC, I went to a couple of classes at studios and gyms, and more often than not, I felt like I was being pushed well beyond my ability level, even in a beginner's class. I thought for a while that maybe it was me ... but then when I busted my back and was in physical therapy, my Pilates instructor physical therapist said she HATED and disapproved of yoga, because it was completely unsupportive for the core and spine. Ugh, so much conflicting info! What's a girl to do?!

Well, being that I really did enjoy it more than Pilates, I decided I'd ease back into doing it occasionally with DVDs from yoga pros, like Bob Harper and Ashley Turner (love her!). I'd check reviews on Amazon and ask for referrals from friends to make sure the yoga DVDs I did was "back-friendly." I'd skip poses or moves that I felt went against what my physical therapist recommended for me. Soon, I realized, thanks to these workouts, it wasn't about pushing myself beyond my limits or trying to prove myself to anyone. And to this day, I love yoga.

What I don't love are yoga workouts that seem like they were created strictly to capitalize on a trend or a fad fitness regimen. In reality, yoga's a spiritual/lifestyle practice, and like the NYT article says, it's about letting go of ego, not boosting your ego! But popular fitness gurus (like Jillian, whose Yoga Meltdown workout has been accused of lacking the proper foundation for a safe, effective yoga workout) have jumped on it and offered kickass, ego-stroking versions that are all about pushing. And that's when people get hurt!  

I'm not surprised that ignorance of what yoga's supposed to be about paired with an impulsiveness to take it too far to prove yourself is what lands people in the hospital or with a chronic injury. And that's just too bad, because yoga done right and with the correct mindset can be a life-changer.

Do you practice yoga? Do you think people who treat yoga as a fad are probably setting themselves up for disaster?


Image via Lululemon Athletica/Flickr

exercise, general health


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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I do yoga and pilates and yoga is far better for my back than pilates. I never feel a strain on my back in yoga but I often find myself modifying pilates moves because they place so much strain on my back.

Stacey. Stacey.

Yoga is participating in an eastern mystical religious practice.

People speak of a higher consciousness while doing yoga. This is a demonic manifestation, and you would be inviting those demons into your life.

Why would anyone consider this? There are those who say that you can separate the exercise component from the mystical, but I wouldnt believe it.

The only experience i had with Yoga, before understanding what it truly is, was Bikram Yoga. My heart was pounding and i couldnt breathe. When I went to leave the instructor actually put his hand on the door and said I couldnt. Needless to say, I did, and never went back. After that I read up on yoga and decided its definitely not for me.

dreab... dreabug23

Stacey, yoga is not a "religious" practice, as you call it. Nor is it a "demonic manifestation."

Yoga has taught me to breath properly, strengthened my body, and taught me to slow down and enjoy every moment. I feel closer to God (as I understand him/her/ it) on a yoga mat than I ever have in a church.

Saman... Samanthamommy

Tried them both, never got into either one.  

Saucy... SaucyChef26

I love pilates more then yoga.. But I was coming from a 2yr work out with Tae Bo and felt that Pilates were a great new direction from high cardio work out. It gave me that core strengthening feeling just like I had when I did Tae Bo but in 20 min AND it made me more flexible. I often felt that with out the Pilate's added to my cardio work out I felt I was lacking something. It enhanced my other work out and made me better at everything with NO strain.. I guess you have to have a stable core in order to start pilates .. it's slow, steady movement focused on breathing and great posture.. I always start my work out with it.. Now that I'm going to be getting back into working out again (high risk pregnancy) I will do the cardio first for the first month then add the pilates back in.. can't wait!!

Stacey. Stacey.

Dreabug, then you arent educated on the subject of yoga or Christianity:

"The first misconception is that yoga is only about physical exercise. Most people in the West have been exposed to only one aspect of yoga, namely, the performance of asanas or postures. This asana-heavy version of yoga ignores central moral and mental dimensions of a holistic practice of mind, body and spirit, rendering yoga scarcely distinguishable from other regimens designed to stretch and strengthen muscles.

The second misconception is that yoga can be dissociated from Hinduism. Yoga appropriators are largely to blame for this dissociation. Indeed, HAF believes that those who peddle a de-Hinduized brand of yoga have benefited financially from their marketing ploy."


also informational: (scroll down to heading Chakras in relation to...)



nonmember avatar ashk

here we go again, blowing things out of proportion. most of the injuries occurred when people were doing difficult positions, like the wheel (bridge with one leg raised) or a headstand. not many of your average yogis can do that - they're still struggling to do warrior 1.

dreab... dreabug23

Stacey, I do not subscribe to a belief system which limits me. The links you posted made me cringe. If you believe that yoga is the pathway to eternal damnation, then don't practice it. If you believe that Disney movies invite Satan into your soul, then don't watch them. Do not try to save me.

The peace and strength within me does not come from a book.

frysh... fryshannon34

I have never tried yoga

Littl... LittleManMama

Stacey. the links you cited are CHRISTIAN links. Obviously the best source on what yoga really is.

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