Back in 2012, the New York Times published an article called ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’. For those who can’t read it because it’s behind a paywall (do not pay for this!), it covers an interview with Glen Black, a yoga teacher to the stars in Manhattan.
In the article, Black suggests that most people should give up yoga, claiming they ‘injure themselves in droves because many have underlying physical weakness or problems’.
Controversially, the article claims that ‘yoga is for people in good physical condition’ and that it ‘shouldn’t be used for a general class’.
Now, as a long-time yogi, I might be a bit biased, but what utter bulls**t.
Let’s look at some of the hard facts around this. According to a study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 74% of yoga participants reported that existing pain was improved by whilst just 10% of people said it had caused new pain, and 21% said it exacerbates existing injuries.
Of course, any new pains and worsening of existing pains shouldn’t be taken lightly, but 10% is far from ‘most people’ as the NYT article claims.
I’m not the only one who believes the NYT article is in the minority. In fact, there has been an outpouring of support for the article from across the yogi-sphere. Here are some of the responses.
- The Guardian went on to publish some success stories of people who have had their lives changed by yoga, such as Susan Davies who said that “I’m shocked. Yoga transformed my life and I love going to practise – it’s made me healthier and much calmer and my body feels more alive,” – read article.
- The Conversation took a fair, balanced approach but concluded that “the effects of exercise on musculoskeletal pain confirms that no one type of exercise or activity appears to reduce risks more than another.” – read article.
- The Awl published a post called ‘Six Reasons To Ignore The ‘New York Times’ Yoga Article’ in which it pointed out all of the scientific flaws in the reasoning of the article – read article.
- And Philadelphia Magazine published an article called ‘The New York Times Magazine Doesn’t Like Yoga’ in which it asked readers to share their own experiences of yoga, and of course, they were overwhelmingly positive – read article.
So, it appears that the New York Times is in the wrong, or was this just click-bait looking for a reaction? In which case, they got what they wanted.