the dangers of yoga

Lowbackpain_1An article in yesterday’s The Globe and Mail pointed out some “trouble on the om front.” It’s somewhat along the same lines as the seminal groundbreaking revealing Time Magazine article a couple of years ago, which provided alarming stats on the number of yoga-related injuries in the US (but you know how we Canadians are, always a little slow on the uptake). Only with some particularly Canadian – well, really, Torontonian – stats.

The article starts off with a practitioner’s experience dislocating her shoulder in yoga class.

The experience, which took place in 2000, hasn’t soured Ms. Buan-Basit on yoga; she now teaches it. And she’s sold on the strength and flexibility it can build. But it has made her aware of just how dangerous an overzealous student, a person with an undisclosed injury and an inexperienced instructor can be. Yet it’s bad karma to talk about it.

The yoga industry, understandably, wants such events to remain on the down-low. It’s fiercely protective of what has become an estimated $6-billion (U.S.) business built on selling enlightenment. [via The Globe and Mail]

I had been following news about the NY state yoga regulation controversy, and wondering if would have any kind of ripple affect on the Canadian yoga community. This is the first Canadian press that I’ve seen covering the subject. Canada actually does have its own yoga alliance, known conveniently as the Canadian Yoga Alliance – though, according to the article, many Canadian teachers are registered with the American YA.

So Canadian yogis (and I know you’re out there!)… what do you think? Is this article a fair representation of what happens in Canadian yoga classes? Are yoga-related injuries the result of overzealous students or underqualified teachers?

  1. Do I hear “cover-up”?

  2. I started posting a comment here…and then it got wordy…so I just posted my thoughts on my own blog 🙂 http://namasteknitting.blogspot.com/2009/10/safety-factor.html

    Thanks again for starting what I imagine will be a spirited discussion Roseanne!

  3. I enjoyed the Globe article as it makes students aware of the different degrees of training a “yoga instructor” may have. The onus is on the student to ask questions, be aware of their body limitations, and get involved. Being a student in a yoga class is not a passive experience – demand more from your teachers and search out the good ones in your community.

    I also dislocated my shoulder doing yoga – my own fault in the privacy of my living room. It wasn’t the pose that caused my injury, it was my impatience and an un-safe practice. Now when I instruct I make sure my students are using safe yoga practices and spend the time to teach correct alignment. However, most classes I attend do not do this – they gloss over alignement and technique in favor of flow and working at the edge. I’ve even been know to reach over to my neighbour and offer them alignment tips to help them progress effectively into a pose.

    How to solve the problem? Don’t be a passive yogi. Get involved in your class, create dialogue, if you don’t know … ASK!

  4. In my first year of doing yoga my instructor missed a class and the replacement was completely terrible in showing us how to do things safely. Luckily most of the students there were not new and knew both their limits and how to move themselves into a pose, but I ended up giving her the benefit of the doubt and hurt myself (nothing major). Since then I have made sure that every class I take is registered with the Yoga Alliance US (either the studio or individual teacher). I encourage my friends to do the same and explain to them what my first instructor told us at the beginning of each class. “Yoga is an invitation. You do not have to do it all.” But I have never been in a Canadian yoga class, so I can only speak for the U.S. side. Every community should address this issue.