A science writer assembled some stories and statistics about injuries in yoga, which the editors of the New York Times published in the Times Magazine last Sunday. It was subsequently glossed on NBC Nightly News, and then picked up yesterday in the Globe.
Many luminaries of the yoga community responded during the week. Below we’ve captured some highlights of what they said.
By the way, our own view is that not everything marching under the banner of “yoga” in our country today is good for you. And despite its shortcomings, the NYT article serves us well by keeping this in view.
Ummm… could you check those numbers, please ?
Eva Norlyk Smith, the founder of YogaU.com points out in the Huffington Post that the injury rate for golf is 10-20 times higher than the reported injury rate for yoga. Be careful with that nine-iron, Tiger.
Baxter Bell, a respected MD and international yoga teacher, observes in Yoga Journal that while the number of yoga injuries increased as the author reported, the number of yoga practitioners also grew, but at a far greater rate. The NYT author cited both increases but failed to make a critical inference. While the number of injuries grew, the injury rate actually dropped!
Statistics can be funny, as Bell points out. Tut, tut, New York Times!
Just the facts, Ma’am
And Chris Beach, the President of the Iyengar National Association of the United States, reported one of the incorrect assertions in the article:
“Just one example: Broad calls Roger Cole a “reformer” who advocates reducing neck bending in Shoulder Stand by lifting the shoulders on a stack of blankets. But this teaching was devised by Mr. Iyengar – Cole is simply one of many of Mr. Iyengar’s teachers who work this way.”
A Salon.com author expressed this view:
“The biggest elisions were implied but never emphasized: the importance of good teaching and the wild divergence of practices under the umbrella of American yoga.”
We say right on to this, of course, as have our own teachers.
If you’re concerned about the safety of a pose, don’t do it! And then talk to your teacher about your concerns, hear what they have to say, and make your own decision. See this week’s article in our newsletter for more advice about avoiding injury in yoga.
And if you want to read more about the yoga community’s response to the article, Dancing Crow Yoga teacher Pat Donaher has a great summary in his blog.