I 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
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