ENG102 Peer Review QuestionsDoug Helgeson
Lesson 11 Draft
"If Yoga Is Really That Good For Us, Why Are There So Many Injuries"
For centuries, yoga has been a mystical and sacred ritual. It was used by religious gurus and their acolytes; ordinary people. Today with millions of Americans are jumping into the Yoga fad, because of the celebrities that are practicing yoga, without having the slightest idea what Yoga is really about. It is reported in 2011 that yoga participation in the U.S. has grown from 4 million to 23 million participants (NYT- Jan 2012). Along the way with its rapid growth yoga has lost its identity and true essence. It's turned strictly into a physical branch of Yoga. At this hyper speed the country is moving at, the majority of yoga followers are seeking a quick fix to health. But instead they are finding themselves injured and discouraged with further ailments compiling on one another. If they truly want to practice the yoga in how it was first conceived and practiced for over 5000 years, they should slow down and explore what Yoga has to offer.
Yoga has been traced back to over 5000 yrs ago, to an Indian continent. It has its roots in the Hinduism and Brahmanism, yet the contemporary western approach has little to do with any particular belief or religion. The western yoga style is mostly the Hatha form which is the physical branch, is a very small part of yoga. The development of yoga came from the ascetics, primarily living in the south of India, they lived much disciplined lives. They were non violent people who lived very close to the earth, they observed nature and, animals and themselves (History of Yoga par 2-4).It's practice mainly took place in ashrams or monasteries.
However, today people are seeking out yoga in small studios to large Health clubs. Where the setting is not that of nature, instead it is a room walled with mirrors and hardwood floors( NYT par. 10) This is the scene of a local health club where I observed ;the room was packed to capacity and the" so called instructor' is in the front of the room leading the class through a series of asanas or postures. As a yoga teacher for over 15 yrs, I was shocked to witness a yoga class being taught at the local health club. After observing this class and the participants half hardily attempting to do what the instructor was performing, it hit me. This so called yoga is anything from its roots. People of all shapes and body types are competing with those around the room to reach the stretch. What else was appalling was seeing the instructor not even attempt to assist or offer alternative poses to students who were having difficulty I could see how people could injure themselves.
According to a 2009 study performed by Columbia University, yoga is the number one activity with the most injuries occurring, far surpassing running, bicycling, walking or hiking. Over 75,000 injuries were reported, the areas of injury occurred to the low back 50%, followed by shoulders 22%, knees 175 and neck 11% (NYT article par25). The alarming rates of injuries from an activity like yoga appeared disproportional. Most people jump into yoga to get into shape as if yoga is this great panacea. In the New York Times article Author William Broad asked the question" why are so many people injury themselves? "To Glenn Black a Yoga instructor for over 40 yrs and his response was "yoga is for fit people". The fact is most participants live a very sedentary lifestyle and then show up at the yoga studio to a type of power yoga routine.
In my recent interview with my yoga teacher Mary Beth Markus, who's been practicing yoga for over 35 yrs and owner of a yoga studio in Phoenix, Arizona for the last 25 years. I imposed the same question Why are so many people injury themselves from yoga? She said" it all comes down to the experience of the instructor and their ability to properly teach the correct form of yoga in a class setting". She also pointed out that a lot of instructors today attend a weekend workshop and they're thrown into teaching the next day, this is seen mostly in health clubs. Furthermore Mary Beth addressed the issue of injuries based on the types of yoga being practiced today. One form is referred to as Flow yoga or Ashtanga another is Hot Yoga or Bikram yoga. In both these the approach is similar in which the class flows rapidly from one asana to another , the difference bin g in hot yoga the room temperature is set to 105- 110 F.
Both Ashtanga and Bikram are highly sought after because of the results people see as far as weight loss and over all fitness gains. But the drawbacks are substantial with both of these types of yoga causing the most harm. In hot yoga the body is being heat from the outside in as opposed to heating from within, the injuries are most often soft tissue strains and sprains, followed by heat exhaustion caused from excessive dehydration. In ashtanga the injuries sustained are similar to Hot yoga, with the addition of spinal disc problems, ligament and tendon strains, with some of these causing permanent damage. (IJOYT par 10).
Injuries are not limited to the inexperienced student, several instructors I've talked to have injured themselves sometime during their practice. In a research article in the International journal of yoga therapy dated Sept. 2008. They surveyed 110 practitioners and found that over 72% reported having injuries that lasted over 1 month. In addition to this some well known highly sought after instructors have injured themselves, with the common denominator being in too much of hurry or not properly being warmed - up. Many of these instructors' injuries' occur when they're more concerned with assisting students into a posture or asana and fail to enter into and out of their pose properly (yoga journal sept2011 pg 56).
In Conclusion Yoga today has hit mainstream America, with people flocking to their daily classes for the masses, but at what cost. Due to its demand Yoga has lost its main perspective that its roots were spiritual based, non-threatening and non-competitive. Instead it's turned into the latest fitness craze, with students as well as instructors injuring themselves all to reach a certain level of flexibility. If an individual is seeking yoga, do some research; find a good studio that offers and introduction into yoga class. Also do a little background on the instructors and what levels of certification they hold. Most of all start out slowly and learn about yourself as you explore this gift of Yoga.
Works Cited Page
Goodall PT,RYT, Elaine "Preventing & Healing Injury in Asana: Acetabular Labral Tears." Yoga journal Sept. 2004 pages 64-65. Print
Seth M.D., P.K., Batra M.D., A Torgovnick M.D., and J.: "Compressive Cervical Myelopathy Due To Sirasana, A Yoga Posture: A case report. The Internet Journal of Neurology.2007 Volume 6 Number 1
Kramer, Kris CYT "A Yoga Teacher's Pain "Yoga Journal Oct 2008 pages 43-44 Print
Broad, William J. "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" New York Times, 5 Jan 2012: print