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Recently, an article called How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body was published in the New York Times.  I keep running across discussions about it in my internet travels, so I decided to say something about it here.

In general, the article talks about the increasing numbers of injuries in the yoga world, and the fact that many of those injuries are severe.  Many of the responses I have seen to this article, although not all, have been what you might expect from the yoga community:  a defensive posture that says that you won’t get injured if you are paying attention, listen to your body, have a good teacher, etc.

The truth of the matter is this: Injuries do happen. We are physical beings in physical bodies – we sustain injuries.  It happens in the gym, it happens on the football field, it happens climbing a mountain, it happens on a casual walk through the woods. And yes, it happens in hatha yoga.

And while it is true that anyone can do yoga from the perspective that yoga is more than exercise and asana, it is also true that not every person should do hatha yoga.  Not every person can do all asanas, and not all asanas are for every person.

More and more people are turning to yoga for their exercise needs, or for relaxation and meditation, and many people are turning to yoga because they believe they can’t be injured in such a gentle practice.  Many people think that yoga is all fluff and gentle stretching, and assume that no one could get hurt doing yoga.  For this reason alone, I appreciate seeing this article.

As with all things, balance is necessary. What are the risks and what are the benefits? These are good things to know.  The knowledge makes us more mindful, more aware. If we know the risks, we can minimize the chance of injury. We can adjust for our individual needs, we can choose quality teachers and ask better questions when we are looking for teachers.

The article is adapted from an upcoming book (to be published in February) called The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards, by William J. Broad.  I read the prologue to the book here, and fully intend to read the entire book when it comes out. Perhaps I will post a review here when I do.

Meanwhile ~ yoga on, my friends, and be mindful, listen to your body, and let it teach you about the beauty of your presence.

~ om shanti ~