I spend quite a bit time convincing people to try yoga. I want to convince those that think it is some wacky religion that, in fact, it is a great form of exercise. And if they want to take it further, a healthy way of life. For those, especially men, who think it is too easy, I tell them about power yoga. To people who think it might be too hard I talk to them about less arduous forms of hatha yoga.
The fact is that there is a form of yoga to suit everyone’s individual needs. But whichever you choose, your strength and flexibility will improve. You’ll find your posture gets better, and you will feel you have higher energy levels. If you explore the meditative aspects of yoga you might feel calmer and more relaxed.
Despite the obvious positive benefits people often ask, “Is yoga safe?”. In fact Google those three words and you will find it is a question asked frequently all over the world. I think this has been prompted by some alarmist articles published in the media over the last year claiming that people have been hurt doing yoga. There was a particularly doom and gloom piece in the New York Times which was quoted all across the globe in many more newspapers.
We really need to read such articles in context. Everything we do in life carries a risk. You don’t stop boiling a kettle because there is a possibility you might get scalded. You just keep your hands clear of the spout when the steam comes out. Crossing the road might not be the safest thing to do, but we look right, look left and look right again before we cross in order to be avoid being hit by a car.
Thousands of people are hurt or killed in car accidents each year but we don’t stop driving, we just buckle up and take care.
The newspaper article in question quotes a very small number of yoga injuries. Hundreds of people actually also get hurt running, weight training and cycling but the journalist did not offer this comparison. Yoga is no more or less unsafe than any other form of exercise as long as you take care as you would with anything else you do in your daily life.
Check with your Doctor first if you have any issues or injuries, or you are pregnant (and yes yoga is safe for pregnancies). And then as long as you have a good qualified teacher who can give you options to suit your own range of motion, and you don’t seek to exceed your abilities, or be pressured into exceeding them, then yoga is safe. This simple checklist is the yoga equivalent of buckling up.
Sadly articles like that one in the New York Times just give uncertain people another reason not to give yoga a try. And for those genuinely looking to procrastinate, they can provide the perfect excuse to stay on the sofa.
Over to you: If you are a participant how have you found your yoga classes? Were you put off by worries about safety? If you are a yoga teacher what do you do to over come these fears? Please leave a comment and let’s have a debate about it.
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