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Time to Talk Back - Yoga U Hosts Online Telesummit on Yoga Injuries: Facts and Fiction
A panel of experts addressed some of the key issues in yoga today in the online telesummit Yoga Injuries: Facts and Fiction.
The media debate surrounding yoga injuries, spurred by the New York Times article “Can Yoga Wreck Your Body?”, left a lot of confusion in its wake. We have heard many reports of yoga practitioners being cautioned against practicing yoga, because friends or relatives have heard that yoga is ‘dangerous.’ Indeed, if you’re new to yoga, you may be concerned yourself—who wouldn’t be when reading the words “yoga’”and “stroke” in the same sentence?
It's time to clear up the confusion and take a look at the real issues. In an effort to shed some much-needed clarity on this debate, YogaUOnline sponsored an online telesummit on Yoga Injuries: Facts and Fiction with leading yoga teachers and medical experts, including Roger Cole, Ph.D., Tias Little, Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T., Dr. Loren Fishman, Dr. Timothy McCall, Julie Gudmestad, P.T., Ellen Saltonstall, and Peggy Cappy, founder of the PBS-Series Yoga for the Rest of Us.
“There’s an important discussion to be had,” Cole continues, “which is why this telesummit is so important. But ultimately the debate doesn’t concern whether it is possible to get hurt practicing yoga. Of course it is, just as you can get hurt while dancing, biking, jogging, golfing, or weight-training. But that doesn’t mean yoga should be considered particulalry ‘hazardous.’”
In fact, compared to injury rates from other forms of physical activity, yoga may be relatively safe. For example, between 1990 and 2007, an estimated 970,000 weight training–related injuries were treated in the U.S., according to the American Journal of Sports Medicine. With about 37 to 45 million practitioners, that's an average of 57,000 injuries per year, or about 12 to 15 people out of every 10,000 practitioners. In contrast, the number of yoga injuries treated in 2007 was at 5,500, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. With an estimated 15.8 million yoga practitioners, that pegs the injury rate at a comparatively low 3.5 out of every 10,000 practitioners. In other words, yoga appears to be about four times safer than weight training.
Still, any yoga injury is one too many. One of the greatest benefits of the telesummit is to focus participants’ on where the actual risks lie and how to practice more safely.
Ultimately, the debate, if there is one, boils down to the question of whether taking up yoga is likely to do you more good than harm. Here the balance lies squarely in favor of yoga. Level-headed analysis shows that while the documented risks are quite modest, the potential rewards are tremendous. For instance, there are more than 400 studies documenting the health benefits of the practice; yoga is being used to help veterans with PTSD, people suffering from depression, kids with ADHD, those with chronic conditions such as back pain, and others. And most people are drawn to the practice because they like the way it makes them feel, physically and emotionally.
“Obviously, any physical activity carries some degree of risk,” says Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D., RYT-500, Managing Editor at YogaUOnline.com. “But the heart of the debate about yoga today really lies in the opportunities—and challenges—that lie ahead for practitioners and for yoga teaching as a profession. This is an important discussion, and the internet offers a great forum to explore the issues in depth.
If you—or, if you're a yoga teacher, your students—have concerns, the Yoga Injuries: Facts and Fiction telesummit can help you to evaluate the evidence. The talks contain a wealth of valuable, practical information you can use not just to get the real facts beyond the media narrative, but also to enrich your yoga practice or find out the best ways to get started with yoga.
Some of the lectures included: Yoga and the American Body: It’s Not One-Size-Fits-All with yoga teacher and physical therapist Julie Gudmestad, Yoga as Medicine – How to get the Most Out of Your Yoga Practice No Matter What Your Age with Dr. Timothy McCall, and Yoga As Alchemy – The Heart of Teaching Yoga with Tias Little. For more information, go here: