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Watch Out: Yoga can injure

Disclaimer: I’ve tried to incorporate yoga into my life on several occasions, and each time, I made a very important mistake that put a short end to my yoga attempts.

Because I never learn, I did all my yoga sessions next to my wife, who is at least 3, probably 18, times more flexible than me.

Plus, she’s a way better athlete.

Plus, she cares more about being in shape.

Which is why I ended up turning the yoga sessions into what you might want to call “competitive yoga”, that is, I tried to do as much stretching as I could manage so that I might come just a wee bit closer to the impossible poses and positions my wife can achieve without any effort at all.

As a consequence, in each instance, I suffered some kind of soft tissue injury – a muscle pull or a tendon pull or often both – that put a quick end to my yoga interest, at least until I gathered up the guts to try it again.

So put me into the un-surprised category about a recent study published online in something called the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (who makes up these names for this plethora of decidedly obscure journals?) and which was, thank god, reported on recently on the excellent HealthDay website that found that of several hundred people surveyed about their yoga experience, “21 percent said yoga worsened their muscle or joint pain” and in over 10 %, yoga led to new musculo-skeletal problems.

So is this really a serious health problem?

Well, this study did not address the seriousness of these health complaints, so you can’t tell from this data just how big a medical problem yoga injuries might be.

But as an observant observer of the human parade, I’d have to say it’s probably not really that much of a health issue for the great majority of the populace, because if you live on the west side of Vancouver, as I do, and you have to line up every day in your favourite coffee shop behind the legions of ecstatic-looking, mostly women, customers with those ever-present rolled-up yoga mats tattooed to their backs, you’d have to admit that very few of them look as in pain, much more likely that they look blissed-out and raring to go to yet another session down on the mats.