So many recent studies – not to mention, that huge plethora of social media hypers – have been pushing yoga as a near cure-all for anything that ails you because, if you swallow the hype, yoga will help you relax, help you become more flexible, help you be more social, help you deal with pain, help you whatever.
The major problem plaguing all these studies, however, is that the science is just not there to back most of these claims.
It’s very hard, after all, to do a double-blind study – the gold standard of medical research – with a bunch of yoga practitioners because presumably anyone doing yoga will always know if they are in a downward dog pose or not, which is why yoga studies depend on simply following people who know that they are practicing yoga and relying on their “unblinded” reports about their state of health.
So anyone thinking of taking up yoga should be aware that along with all those pro-yoga reports out there, there are also many reports about people who got injured from yoga such as this latest one, a new study from the Mayo Clinic that has concluded that some yoga postures “may raise the risk of compression fractures in people with thinning bones”.
In other words, if you have thinning bones – osteoporosis (OP), or perhaps even a precursor of OP called osteopenia – putting lots of pressure on the spine in some of the poses you do in yoga may collapse weakened bones in your back or neck, the vertebra “compress” in other words, which can lead to pain, loss of mobility, and in the worst circumstances, neurological damage.
Interestingly, too, in the cases the researchers describe in this report, some of the people – mostly women – who developed compression fractures had been doing yoga for years.
Don’t mean to rain on your good karma, folks, but you should know this stuff before downward dogging too enthusiastically.