Did you know "yoga" isn't just a brand of incredibly tight, ass-displaying pants? It's true! Its various slow poses and stretches and relaxing atmosphere are great for someone who can't (or won't) handle more rigorous aerobic exercise. There are many ailments that can hold your average person back from traditional workouts: bad backs, aching knees, a bad case of a comfortable lounge chair, and a crate of beer, for instance. With its safety, relatively little impact on your joints, and the huge boost to your health it promises, yoga seems like the perfect answer.
You may also know it as the P90X day that you skipped and did Kenpo again instead.
But Actually ...
Look, no one is saying that yoga doesn't have its benefits. However, to reap said benefits you need to know what you're doing. The problem is that yoga is an unregulated industry, and even if your "master" does have what passes for a yoga-teaching license, there's a good chance they gained it through dubious means such as online courses.
While there certainly are some capable and professional yoga teachers out there, this obviously leaves a huge chunk of the yoga community swimming in a sea of bullshit, attempting moves they half-remember from that time they browsed through Kama Sutra when they were 14 and passing them off as super-safe in order to get paid. And a lot of the things they come up with are extremely dangerous. One influential teacher advises that, the head should arch back "as far as possible" in one particular pose. Follow this advice, and you could be facing a stroke, paralysis-level nerve damage, or even death, because holy shit, necks are not meant to do that.
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"I'm not posing; this is just how I live now."
Bending-related injuries, both acute and chronic, are commonplace, particularly on women due to their greater flexibility (and thus ability to push themselves further). Yoga preys heavily on their hips: Research by a Swiss orthopedic surgeon has concluded that female yoga practitioners between 30 and 40 have way more pelvic damage than their peers. Shit, even the teachers themselves occasionally get injured when they try too hard.
This is all because shockingly, yoga is actually pretty damn hard. Glenn Black, an actual yoga teacher with some 40 years of experience, insists yoga is far from mass entertainment, and is an art for physically fit and dedicated people instead of the general population. His response when people come to him for some easy, joint-friendly exercise after major traumas? Don't do yoga.
Try a hippity hop instead.
Said advice, incidentally, is often directed toward fellow yoga teachers.
You can follow Hoss down his street or on Twitter if you prefer to be discreet.
For more ridiculous truths about health, check out The 5 Most Terrifying Side Effects of Exercise and 5 Well-Known Tips for Healthy Eating (That Don't Work).
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