Is There a Dark Side to Yoga?

January 17, 2015

Is There a Dark Side to Yoga?

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Did you know that yoga can make you flexible, weak, and prone to injury?

Before you cancel your yoga membership or give up your downward dogs and sun salutations, hear me out.

Yoga is an amazing practice that can add many benefits to your quality of life - flexibility, mobility, reduced stress, better sex life, better balance, self-confidence, etc. etc.

Most of us are tight, stressed, and could greatly benefit from 1, 2, even 3 yoga classes a week or more.

As a CrossFit coach, I see people doing too much CrossFit without the balance of flexibility, breathing and recovery.

That can result in decreased performance and limited benefits from all your hard work in the gym.

That’s why we hold 2 yoga classes/week free for our members.

When taking a yoga class, it needs to be done with a purpose. It needs to balance you out and strengthen areas that need to be strengthened. This article from the Huffington Post warns against the common issues.

The Darkside of Yoga:

  1. Injuries
  2. Exhaustion
  3. Competition
  4. Rigidity/Stagnation
  5. Spiritual delusion

The most common remedy is to be sure you know why you’re doing yoga. Listen to your body, and make sure you’re in the right yoga class with the right instructor.

Another NY Times article, titled, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, looks into the injuries people have sustained from being too deconditioned, or years of extreme practice, quotes a famous Yogi, Glenn Black: "the vast majority of people should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm. Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition.”

Just like so many other disciplines, there’s the good and a bad. There're negligent instructors and naive students.

The bottom line is that I believe doing yoga too much, or using yoga as your main/sole form of exercise can be dangerous.

Here’s why: We humans are designed to do it all- run, jump, lift, throw, climb, push, pull.

Plus, life requires more than just 10 physical skills to play all-out: Agility, balance, speed, power, flexibility, strength, cardio/respiratory endurance, stamina, accuracy, coordination.

Yoga doesn’t work all of these, only some.

That is why yogis can be some of the weakest, muscularly imbalanced people in the gym.

Sure, they can rep out chaturanga's and hold a mean downward dog or warrior. However, they are usually weak in their posterior chain, lacking power, strength, speed, and a lot of other highly useful skills and abilities.

What if yoga is your only workout?

Are there comprehensive yoga programs that combine adequate strength, speed, cardio, etc. in the program? Without a doubt.

Just don’t rely solely on yoga to help you realize your physical potential.

Combine it with a strength and conditioning program like CrossFit and you will be a lean, mean force to be reckoned with.

Is doing yoga better than doing nothing? Hell Yes!

Will yoga prep you for all of your favorite activities in life? Surfing, skiing, climbing, sports, etc? Not necessarily. You can train yourself to be hyper-mobile, slow and imbalanced for the dynamic actions required in these activities.

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