Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Can Yoga Cause Physical Damage?

We’ve written extensively here on Mystical Paths about the spiritual damage and dangers of yoga.  But is yoga physically dangerous?  After all, it’s touted as a cure for many physical ills, might it actually be a problem and not what it’s described?

The New York Times says…

On a cold Saturday in early 2009, Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades, whose devoted clientele includes a number of celebrities and prominent gurus, was giving a master class at Sankalpah Yoga in Manhattan. Black is, in many ways, a classic yogi: he studied in Pune, India, at the institute founded by the legendary B. K. S. Iyengar, and spent years in solitude and meditation. He now lives in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and often teaches at the nearby Omega Institute, a New Age emporium spread over nearly 200 acres of woods and gardens. He is known for his rigor and his down-to-earth style. But this was not why I sought him out: Black, I’d been told, was the person to speak with if you wanted to know not about the virtues of yoga but rather about the damage it could do. Many of his regular clients came to him for bodywork or rehabilitation following yoga injuries. This was the situation I found myself in. In my 30s, I had somehow managed to rupture a disk in my lower back and found I could prevent bouts of pain with a selection of yoga postures and abdominal exercises. Then, in 2007, while doing the extended-side-angle pose, a posture hailed as a cure for many diseases, my back gave way. With it went my belief, naïve in retrospect, that yoga was a source only of healing and never harm…

After class, I asked Black about his approach to teaching yoga — the emphasis on holding only a few simple poses, the absence of common inversions like headstands and shoulder stands. He gave me the kind of answer you’d expect from any yoga teacher: that awareness is more important than rushing through a series of postures just to say you’d done them. But then he said something more radical. Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.  (Physical harm.)

Read the whole thing.


  1. And so can running a marathon or being a couch potato. Doing anything in the extreme (including nothing at all) can cause physical harm. Drinking too much carrot juice will turn your skin orange and too much water will kill you.

    Everything in moderation.

    Lack of personal care and overweight is rampant in the frum community. If anything please use your podium to promote healthy living, which includes some cardio (a brisk walk or peak 8 from Dr. Mercola), stretching and weights, all at least a few times a week. This is a mitzva deoreita. Strange that it is so overlooked.

    Generally you have a great blog, but this just seems to be your personal bugbear. chaval.

  2. for yoga people: any good physical therapist can show you a range of stretches that are safe and strengthening for the body.
    i would trust a good PT any day.
    there is no avodah zarah, and the movements are safe.


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