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Complete and Exhaustive Guide: Yoga Community Responds to NYT ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’

in YD News

soap box yogaWell then, there’s certainly been quite a bit of fuss lately over egos and yogis and injuries, oh my. The article [How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body] that seriously rocked the shiva shakti boat so much that responses have been pouring out of the yoga woodwork all week, is still seeing some rippling effects even from the Old Grey Lady itself.

Sure, it’s overwhelming (we already have close to 4 posts on it) but here’s why we think all this hubbub is good: people care. That’s it. If yogis, teachers, students care enough about their practice to post on blogs, write letters to editors, chatter on twitter, facebook and in class, then we guess this yoga thing is actually making a deep impact on folks, and not just hippies and haters.

We believe all are welcome to offer their thoughts and responses, and we appreciate those who have taken the time to voice their opinions on yoga, injuries and safety, the state of yoga teachers and training today and the egos or narcissism there within. We also believe opinions are like egos, everyone’s got one. (meditate on that for a moment).

Anyway, a lot of the responses are well worth reading and offer some gems of insight with or without the New York Times provoking defensive and/or  reactionary rebuttals, etc. If you wanted opinions, here’s a hefty bowl full. We’ll add more as it surfaces.

Your Complete and Exhaustive Guide: Yoga Community Responds to NYT ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’

UPDATED 1/21/12

Me, Myself and Yoga – Is Yoga For Narcissists? NYT Takes On Its Own Ego Debate, and Redefining Yoga, Again

Yogi Glenn Black Responds to New York Times Article on Yoga Eden Fromburg interviews Glenn Black

Glenn Black, Baxter Bell, Kaitlin Quistgaard, Jason Crandell and Moshe Lewis discuss on KQED (listen below)

Yoga Tune Up creator and Glenn Black student, Jill Miller, takes on The Great Yoga Debate

Jill Miller goes deeper and considers the shades of gray Can Yoga Wreck Your Body? The Dark Side of Yoga (with Shades of Gray)

Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D responds to NYT with Practicing Safe Yoga — 5 Tips to Avoid Injuries

Charlotte Bell on the competitive nature and yoga’s eight limbs

Dr. Loren Fishman weighs in at ABC News: 4 Ways to Practice Safe Yoga

Leslie Kaminoff‘s 2 cents about “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”

Leslie Kaminoff’s 2 cents, Take 2: Egg On My Neck, part 2 of My 2 Cents about ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’

Roger Cole on discrepancies in healthiness of shoulderstand via his facebook page

Eddie Stern’s response and the following from AYNY.org

Peter Ferko on expanding the definition of yoga

Chris Beach, president of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States responds

Salon.com’s Irin Carmon on extremes and omissions

Baxter Bell talks about the bigger picture via Yoga Journal

Sarah Miller on the ‘Six Reasons To Ignore The ‘New York Times’ Yoga Article

The Yoga Averse Rejoice Over New Book Warning Yoga Injuries by Boston Globe staff writer Beth Teitell

The Great Yoga Divide by Heather Timmons “Firstpost dubs the article a “bunch of anecdotes dressed up to sound like a contorted expose”

Alanna Kaivalya adds her say via HuffPo, Can Yoga Wreck Your Body? Absolutely! It Can Also Save Your Life

More reactions from yoga bloggity blogs:



49 comments… add one
  • wow, good work rounding up all this stuff! i totally agree that the reason this has struck such a nerve is because people care. we care about this practice, we care about how it’s taught and perceived and perpetuated.

  • Chris

    Is Yoga safe ?

    Guruji BKS Iyengar is 93 years old, and is in full possession of his physical and mental faculties. He still teaches Yoga, practises Yoga, and delivers delightful lectures on Yoga. He just traveled to China, and bowled-over the Chinese, with his week-long Yoga Program in China.

    And Guruji is able to do all of this, despite having had a very difficult childhood. Guruji’s father died when he was merely 9 years old, and Guruji continued to suffer from a variety of maladies in his childhood, including influenza, malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general-malnutrition.

    Guruji’s students number in the thousands today, and they seem to be doing OK.

    The Hindu science of Yoga has been practised for 5000 years in India, and there haven’t been any complaints.

    So, I think that it’s safe to conclude that Yoga is safe for ALL !

    What might be unsafe, however, is the latest trendy, “faddy”, hyphenated-Yoga-ripoffs, which seem to be crawling out of the woodwork, and assaulting us from all sides.
    This McDonaldization and Wal-martization of the sacred Hindu science of Yoga, wherein nonsensical, new hyphenated Yoga rip-offs are being manufactured everyday in the West (Power-Yoga TM, Christ-Yoga TM, etc., anyone ? ) is nothing short of Profane.

    We have even seen some morons in the West, who are attempted to patent certain Yoga-asanas ! Huh ?

    India has already seen Western lawyers trying to patent Basmati rice, Darjeeling tea, the use of turmeric for medicinal purposes, etc, all of which are of ancient India-origin. Clearly, in the West, there are far too many patent-lawyers, and too few genuine Yoga-students.

    However, this too shall pass, and the sacred Hindu science of Yoga, as compiled by Patanjali, and as disseminated by true and selfless teachers like Guruji BKS Iyengar, will endure.

  • Let’s turn this discussion into something constructive. Given that we know that yoga injuries sometimes do happen, let’s consider how we can minimize the chance that they will happen to us. Here are a few of my thoughts about How Not To Get Hurt…


  • Kudos on the Lou Reed post! what an interesting quirky twist on the discussion!

  • “people care. That’s it” – yea 😉

  • Great round up! I wanted to do this myself!

  • Jane Cameron

    you missed Francois Raoult’s throughtful and detailed reply:


  • Yoga asanas are physical exercises, and yes you can get hurt doing them. The yoga community shouldn’t be overly defensive about this point. One can easily come up with reasons why safety is an issue when doing yoga asanas. Here are my Top 7 reasons:


  • Wow, what a lot of work. Thanks for compiling this great list. I’ll get busy reading now.

  • Great tips! You are an inspiration.

  • Feists

    Don’t forget GymYogaTM. Just as bad as the others.

  • Toddy

    I would broadly agree with the premise of the William Broad NYT article / book – that yoga classes, whether because inadequate teacher training, a dogmatic tradition or an over zealous student, can and do cause harm.  However Broad’s many errors and mistakes in such a short article don’t give me a lot of confidence in the rigor of his research or the ultimate quality of his book. 

    The wonderful thing it has done though is spark an unprecedented response to the topic of Yoga Asana practice and bodily harm. I think the “yoga can’t hurt you and if it does it’s not yoga” attitude does nothing to help those who with little knowledge but the best intention go along to a class described as Yoga and aren’t safely taught asana. 

    • yes! –

      “the ‘yoga can’t hurt you and if it does it’s not yoga’ attitude does nothing to help those who with little knowledge but the best intention go along to a class described as Yoga and aren’t safely taught asana…”

      nicely said, thank you 😉

  • Megan

    This video from Boston based instructor is also amazing, and represents and balanced and thoughtful approach to criticism!


  • Heather

    Here’s another one from Iyengar teacher, John Schumacher: http://www.unitywoods.com/2012/01/a-response-to-how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body/

  • Fantastic compilation.

    I was missing Paul Grilley’s voice in this debate. I ask him to write a reply which he sent to me and I posted here: http://yesheyoga.com/paul-grilleys-response-to-how-yoga-can-wreck

    More people need to kinesthetically feel the difference between compression and tension. Understanding my natural range of motion in my joints has made my practice safer and happier.


    • wendy, thank you for posting that link 😉

      paul grilley’s one of fav’s for that kind of info, and yes, had definitely missed seeing his imput

      have shared your link with my mailing list, thanks again!

      • Toddy

        Ditto. Grilley’s response is, as usual, deliberate calm and precise.

  • I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a long time yoga teacher. I treated a patient today who tore her hamstring in yoga class. That said, was she really doing yoga? To see what I mean, check out the little response I wrote after the 10th or so student asked me about the NYTimes Mag article…
    comments and conversation welcomed!

  • Cathy Lilly

    Hi Yogadork,

    Here’s the correct link for Dr. Loren Fishman and myself on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer:


    Cathy Lilly

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