The yoga backlash

Why yoga could damage your health

YOGA, THE EXERCISE choice of discerning celebrities including Madonna, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow, may be experiencing a backlash.

A recent article in Time magazine reported that a range of health professionals including orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists and chiropractors in America are dealing with more and more yoga-related injuries.

The problems suggest that yoga could be a victim of its own success – as its popularity spreads, so do bad examples of its teaching and practice.

‘People get lulled into a false sense of security because yoga has the image of being a very low-impact activity,’ says Robin Shepherd from the General Osteopathic Council. ‘I see patients who are injured as a result of yoga.’

There is no legislation to dictate standards or training for yoga teachers. But Helen Smith, chair of the British Wheel of Yoga, says there’s an easy way to find out about your teacher: ask.

‘Any yoga teacher should be proud to tell you where they trained,’ she says. ‘Our teachers train for three years and we usually require them to have done quite a lot of study beforehand.’

The worst thing you can do is try to keep up with the person next to you, says Jonathan Sattin of the fashionable Triyoga centres. His advice? ‘It’s not a competitive practice and forcing yourself into positions won’t do you any good.’

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