Writer Questions The Benefits Of Yoga

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Yoga enthusiasts swear by the health benefits of this ancient form of exercise and meditation. But all it took was one article in the New York Times to knock the Zen out of the yoga community. The headline: How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.

While the article angered yoga instructor Gina Minyard, she admits she herself has been injured. She says she hurt her hamstring and her shoulder about a year after she started practicing yoga. But she says the injury wasn’t all bad. “The same poses where I hurt myself, I actually was able to create healing,” she said.

In the article, New York Times senior writer William J. Broad writes that Yoga can cause serious injuries such as nerve damage, strokes, muscle damage, torn cartilage and even cracked ribs. Minyard and others have criticized some of the research behind the article. “Pulling like these studies from the 70’s with what sounded to me like people doing yoga kind of more on their own without the guidance of a teacher,” she said.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

In the 14-years Joe Palese has been teaching yoga, no one has ever been injured in his class. However, he does admit injuries do happen if students don’t use the proper technique. “I think a lot of injuries that this gentleman is describing in the article could possibly be created by doing something over and over incorrectly and/or pushing way too hard in a pose,” he said.

Physical therapist David Pasion says that injuries are possible but he also agrees with many yoga instructors who feel the article was alarmist. “I don’t think it was fair. There were too many negatives thrown out,” he said. “Obviously, with more people doing a form of exercise, you are going to have more injuries, whether it’s softball, baseball, football, whatever.”

The New York Times article suggests injuries happen when people push themselves beyond their physical limits. Many doctors agree and suggest that if you practice yoga, listen to your body. If a pose doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

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