In response to The Guardian - has yoga peaked?

Wednesday 28 November, 2007

jimavuktiAn eyebrow-raising feature in yesterday's Guardian suggests yoga is facing a backlash due to growing numbers of people sustaining injuries, coupled with the unregulated nature of the industry.


There are looming signs, writes the author, that the bubble may be about to burst.

One of these omens, apparently, is a recent article in Time magazine in which orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists and chiropractors are dealing with "the fallout of yoga practice gone awry" and a "rash of injuries" caused by yoga.

Time magazine also argues that yoga is largely ineffective, "bestowing little in the way of a cardiovascular workout or weight-loss benefits".

I'll deal with this last allegation first. Anyone who has a fair experience of yoga knows this is probably the single best all-round physical (mental and emotional) activity human beings can do.

The number of studies proving yoga's manifold health benefits proliferate almost faster than the rash of new yoga styles hitting the market.

Perhaps if the authors of these (not infrequent) arguments tried out a two-hour ashtanga class - as, to be fair, is pointed out at the end of the Guardian article - they wouldn't be so quick to jump to false conclusions.

The other reason yoga is, we are told, facing a backlash, is down to a growing number of injuries sustained.

Any physical activity carries the risk of physical injury. Statistics are hard to come by, but it's fair to say that most yoga-related injuries are picked up in ashtanga classes.

Often attracting type 'A' personalities (or, in Ayurvedic terms, pitta types) this super-dynamic practice is too often approached with an aggressive streak and before students' bodies are ready for such a dynamic practice.

Inna Costantini, an experienced yoga practioner based in London, makes a salient point.

She says: "Students are partly responsible for any damage they experience - it's not a fitness class and the aim isn't to push yourself but rather to listen to your body, be gentle with it and understand your limits. I would say a lot of the injuries in yoga are self-inflicted."

Where Alice Wignall, the Guardian writer, does talk sense is in relation to the unregulated nature of this industry. She makes the valuable point that much gym-based yoga is taught by people with dubious yoga credentials.

This is undeniably true - many yoga teachers based at gyms have minimal (a weekend, for example) training and a scant knowledge of this most ancient and complex of practices.

Because there's no regulation, finding a good yoga teacher with solid credentials can be a minefield.

Most people would have little idea of the difference between a British Wheel trained teacher and someone who has completed a course certified by the Yoga Alliance - and the two organisations appear to have little synchronisity.

Wignall quotes people who appear to cast doubt on her allegation that the yoga industry has peaked and is about to nose-dive.

For example, Triyoga's Jonathan Sattin makes the point that some practioners invite injury by an un-mindful approach to their practice, and that yoga about overall wellbeing rather than large thigh muscles.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that, despite raising some fair and important issues, the article's evidence that the yoga bubble is poised to burst is shakier than a beginner introduced to tree pose for the very first time.


Read the Guardian article, Overstretched, here


If you have any comments on the Guardian article, or on my response to it, please log in and fire away. Is the yoga bubble about to burst?


Lucia Cockcroft, editor


Picture source: Jivamukti


Hilarious! Is the article

Hilarious! Is the article written by someone who has no idea what they are talking about? Is it poorly researched? Is it biased? You actually don't need to even read it to find out - just look at the picture... the 'yoga teacher' adjusting the student in shoulderstand by the toes! While both wear trainers.

Great example of very poor journalism i would say.

ps - all my messages are in bold - any help would be appreciated

Ben Ralston

Prem Yoga School

Er yes - I hadn't even

Er yes - I hadn't even noticed the random toe adjustment (that would sure hurt) picture, complete with trainers. How ridiculous.



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