Wow William Broad of the NYT again graces us with his opinions and scientific research on how yoga is dangerous in general, and now especially for men.
Broad doesn’t discuss how hatha yoga postures were originally developed, taught by and practiced by only men. Women were forbidden to practice, and only until the most recent century started. But ironically we find the great majority of practitioners are women, with mostly women yoga teachers.
As all bodies are built differently, we need to take into account strength, flexibility, and skeletal alignment. And we also need to remember that any physical practice/exercise has the possibility of causing injury.
As yoga teachers, we don’t ever say that yoga is completely safe. As an director/owner of two yoga studios in Westchester, New York for 16 years, thousands of students have moved through our 50-75 classes a week, and I can probably count on 2 hands the number of major injuries we have had. Most injuries have been tweaked knees, sacrum, low back and shoulder. And most students have come back to class, worked to understand their body better, understand how and why they were injured.
As Broad states men “…are more muscular and are less flexible in general.” Personally, as a woman who is strong and very inflexible, yoga has been a gateway for me to dramatically change my bodies flexibility. I have sustained injuries, other then “fainting”, but none have ever brought me to the doctor or the hospital. Every time, the yoga and the practice of mindfulness teaches me about my body, how I approach it (my body) and my life. As the director of 2 studios, I have instilled that thoughtful, intelligent and safe teaching is primary, but the students must always take at least half the responsibility for their own bodies.
We all know that men have more of a competitive nature then women. And the discussion and education of not pushing through pain is imperative, students in every class need reminders continually.
I guess Mr. Broad’s writing of these editorials and his book on yoga has brought up discussions, but his mis-information, skewing of the studies, and exasperation of “eye catching” words sell newspapers and books. He knows the public hooks onto words like “strokes and fractures, dead nerves and shattered backs.” He did admit at a public talk that the NYT had published a lot of positive articles on yoga, and he was taking another approach. But he continues to claim to be a yogi, practicing himself. Concurrently, his writing scares away those who may benefit from beginning a simple, life time practice of yoga, that may have dramatic effects on their health, stress level, and general state of happiness. There is too much positive that yoga offers for Broad to continue to insight fear in people who don’t have any knowledge of yoga. Why turn men off from something he personally believes in is beneficial?