Since Yoga hit the mainstream, it has been the darling of the health and fitness world with everyone raving about the body and mind benefits. Active wear has never been more fashionable with Yoga mats fast becoming the latest fashion accessory. However, more recently I have seen more press on ‘Yoga being bad for your body’ which has brought some controversy to the Practice.
My belief is the fault is not in the practice itself but ‘how’ we practice.
Because of its popularity the market has become saturated with Yoga variations and offerings and most of them with on-mass instruction oppose to the individual. To the same effect Pilates Practices has become much the same where due to over commercialisation we move further and further away from the precepts and ‘true’ practice.
Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of Yoga, but to say that ‘Yoga is bad for your body’ is a statement that I believe lacks depth and incorrect. My belief is the fault is not in the practice itself but ‘how’ we practice.
I did have a short stint of practicing Ashtanga Yoga and was shocked by the number of people doing Yoga poorly. I’m not talking about the automatous superstars in the corner going about their super advance sequence, I’m talking about everyone else — who were the vast majority. I remember cringing as I watched the hunching of shoulders and crunching of lower backs in such poses as the Upward facing dog (pictured).
To the defense of the Yoga instructor, as great as he was — the expectation of teaching a group of 15 people was totally unrealistic. In my own experience when I use to teach to a large group at other studios, the unspoken compromise was safety and quality of instruction — its inevitable.
Your role effectively becomes more of a supervisory role oppose to one that is instructional. Which leaves you with the problem of Yoga poses / Pilates exercises being under-taught therefore performed incorrectly which can lead to injury.
Far to often we are too quick to blame without proper reasoning.
I believe one of the main culprits that sparked this bold comment of ‘Yoga being bad for your body’ is the elementary pose of the Upward facing dog. This pose is performed by novices and expert alike, and hence I believe the problem lies here.
Don’t get me wrong, the Upward facing dog is a great pose to stretch the spine, open the chest and work strength in the arms, shoulders and back muscles. But the level of difficulty of this pose is highly underestimated as it requires a lot of upper body and abdominals strength and without it — the lower back is vulnerable. Because of the nature of the pose and its repetition if performed poorly, over time this will lead to lower back injury.
To a degree, I acknowledge Yoga practice can be bad for the body but it is due to lack of instruction and strength and not the Yoga Practice itself. Far to often we are too quick to blame without proper reasoning. So next time you find yourself in a Yoga albeit a Pilates group class be mindful of your practice, strength and your compromise.
Image sourced from www.yogatrail.com