Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yoga and the Emergency Room

So I still haven't taken a yoga class, although I did pick up the schedule for the studio by my house.  On Thursday night I was planning to go, but it was my friend's birthday and she would have been alone if I hadn't gone to drink wine with her.  So of course I drank wine : ).  Then I planned to go this weekend, but by the time I looked at the schedule on Saturday, I realized they had all already passed.  And well today...I went to brunch with Mr. GG and again there are no afternoon classes.

Oh well.

But this post is really about an article about yoga that I just read in the New York Times Magazine, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.  It talks about all of the serious risks associated with yoga and the lack of public knowledge about them. 

I am switching to yoga for therapeutic reasons so I definitely don't want to be picking up any new injuries.  My primary issue right now is my neck.  After a particularly brutal soccer game 3 or 4 months ago, I was in extreme pain and could barely move my neck or upper back.  I had another flare up after watching tv looking 90% to my right for about 30 minutes.  My neck hurt so bad the next day that I actually went to the doctor.  She prescribed muscle relaxers and Ibuprofen.  I had my last flare up last week after about 10 minutes of being in an awkward position during BD time.  Yes...a sex injury : )  It wasn't uncomfortable enough at the time for me to move so I didn't.  Then, the next day, my neck wouldn't move.  Awesome.

The NY Times article talked about many neck injuries created from yoga, some of which led to stroke or brain damage because they push the neck past it's normal range and reduce blood flow.  The article is long, so you should read the whole thing, but the basic message is that some of the inverted and twisting poses can be very dangerous.  And that the most common area of injury is the lower back (my other weak zone), followed by the shoulder, something else, and then the neck.

I'm pretty good at knowing my own limits and I would never attempt a head stand no matter how strong I get because of my neck and the fact that it hurts my face to be upside down, but this article was a good reminder to listen to your body and not to think of yoga as a competition to push yourself further and further.

I know many of you practice a lot of yoga. It is truly great for lowering blood pressure, elevating mood, and even improving sex life, not to mention flexibility.  Just know your limits!


  1. That is really interesting and totally validating. I've been doing yoga for years, and over time I've learned that I need to modify certain poses from the "correct" form in order to avoid hurting my lower back. But I always thought that was because there was something wrong with me, not that the yoga might be to blame. Thanks for sharing this!

    (And I totally agree about listening to your body.)

  2. @Hope - You win the (invisible) award for posting the 100th comment on this blog! Yay! I love checking out what you say whenever you post. Thanks for your support!

  3. Hey, thanks for the award (invisible) award! Glad I checked back :-)