We’ve written many articles about spiritual problems with yoga for Jews. But can yoga cause physical problems?
I have been doing yoga (and Pilates) consistently for about six months or more, three times a week and up until last week, I had been a mess. My neck hurt, I couldn’t turn my head, and even my feet hurt. I even had constant migraines. I thought if I tried harder at yoga, the pain would go away. It only got worse.
I had started doing some of the Rippetoe (strength training) workouts about a month ago, and used his book to get some ideas. I am doing three sets of squats, three sets of deadlifts, three sets of lat pulldowns, and overhead presses for 5 repetitions each. It doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But after doing that for a couple of weeks, I could see some results. Believe it or not, my back is more flexible, I don’t hurt as bad, and I feel stronger.
Last week though I decided to experiment and stop doing yoga altogether and I can now turn my head like a normal person. I did go back to one session today but the same pain came back. Damn that downward dog! That move seems to be the main source of my problem. The week I was off yoga, I did better at my weight lifting and was able to go a bit heavier because I was not as injured and sore.
Now I know why. I just readby Rippetoe “Why Being Sore Doesn’t Mean You’re Getting Stronger:”
Here’s the problem: the soreness doesn’t make you stronger. Soreness just makes you hurt. Lifting heavier weights makes you stronger, because that is what stronger means: the ability to produce more force. Soreness is merely a side effect of the process of using exercises that have an eccentric component. And if those exercises do not involve progressively increasing force production — lifting increasingly heavier weights — then they cannot make you stronger, even if they make you so sore you can’t walk.
I stupidly thought that I would get less sore if I kept up with the yoga and got used to it, but just the opposite happened: the more I did, the worse I got. As Rippetoe says: “Soreness is muscular inflammation, and inflammation has effects beyond just the inflamed tissue itself.” Well, I have learned my lesson. Less yoga, more weight training.
I have heard from a few people for whom yoga provided a solution to a specific medical situation. But there are tons of articles about people who have suffered pain, injury and permanent disability from yoga.
Besides the spiritual risks of modern yoga, there definitely seems to be physical risks as well. As always, if you’re Jewish we recommend avoiding yoga. But whether you are Jewish or not, if you do yoga and it hurts, STOP!