Saturday, 1 September 2012

Truth About Yoga Injuries

Do you think yoga is safe? Really? No bloody bruises? No torn ligaments? No overstretched muscles? No limping out of a class? No cracked ribs? No dislocated joints? No damaged nerve endings? No spinal disc problems?
The truth is you are more likely to be reduced to a bloody pulp than leave the class unharmed. In fact, you would be safer in a boxing ring with Mike Tyson as your opponent. Not that I endorse bestiality.
There are two reasons why yoga does great damage to the body and psyche. The first is ignorant teachers and the second is our own egos. Yoga itself cannot hurt anyone; it is how yoga is practised that causes temporary or permanent damage.

From yoga mat to operating table
On a ladies-only beach this summer a naked pretty redhead, a couple of metres from where I was sunbathing, stroke up a conversation after she saw me reading a book about yoga and psychotherapy. She had taken a yoga class only once in her life, but the consequences were horrific: the teacher had pushed her into a yoga pose using the extra strength of legs and that caused permanent damage to her hip. The scar from the operation was all too visible, and then I noticed the ornate cane next to her.  
If you think the global posse of yoga teachers are enlightened seraphic creatures channelling ubiquitous love, light and respect, you are impressionable. Read more here.

Don't let the ego be your master
And then there is the ego. My former neighbour in London took yoga classes with a teacher she did not like. The teacher had ignored her completely for two years and by doing so made her unnecessarily angry and pugnacious. The love and attention she did not get made her push the body beyond its limit; until one day, somewhere between a shoulder stand and plough, eager to impress the teacher, she damaged a spinal nerve, losing all feeling on the left side of her body. Despite the advanced modern medical care, she has not recovered from the ordeal and now the nerve problem has started to affect her mental health too. 
Why continue going to a class that does not feel right and why want to impress a teacher who does not care? It happens more often than you think. The answer is the ego. The ego doesn't have our best interest in heart. Instead, it keeps pushing us beyond a reasonable limit, often weaving a web of disillusionment and false hopes around the situation. Be careful not to let the ego dictate how far you push yourself in a yoga class, and how you live your life in general. If allowed, the ego will do great damage to the body and the mind. It will keep you permanently locked in an unfulfilled state of mind.

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