Originating from ancient India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga is widely believed to be one of the first forms of exercise created by humans, bringing physical and psychological benefits to those who practice it.
But today’s Instagram-conscious instructors are falling victim to more injuries because they are rushing into attempting challenging poses that will look good on social media, experts have warned.
The desire to teach the sport ‘purely for aesthetic reasons’ is leading to a worrying rise in the number of yoga teachers who are picking up injuries, particularly in the hips.
Benoy Matthews, a leading UK-based specialist hip and knee physiotherapist, warns that an increasing amount of his patients are yoga teachers.
Speaking to the BBC, Matthews says he is seeing four to five yoga teachers per month, who are pushing their bodies into “prescribed” positions that they are not equipped to be in.
In most cases, his patients simply need advice on how to moderate these positions; at worst, they require surgery, including total hip replacements.
“People confuse stiffness and pain,” the physio explained. “If there is a pinching or blocking feeling in the groin, it shouldn’t be ignored. You have to know your limits.”
“We all know about the health benefits of yoga – I practise it myself,” he adds. “But, like anything, it can cause injury. We can’t put it on a pedestal.”
“I don’t want to denounce yoga, after all it’s been going for thousands of years. But you have to understand yourself. What’s achievable for one might not be achievable for others. People tend to do the same set positions, rather than what’s achievable for them,” he added.
Matthews further said, “Ego might mean them trying to take a position ‘all the way’ to the end when they should just stop where it’s comfortable. Just because the person next to you can reach all the way doesn’t mean it’s necessary, or desirable, to do the same.”
Matthews who has specialised in hips and knees for last eight out of his 22 years in physio — says problems can develop when yoga teachers aren’t doing any other forms of exercise.
“They might be doing yoga six days a week and think that’s enough, without doing any other kind of exercise, like cardio or cross-training,” he continued. “It’s like anything. If you do the same thing again and again, there can be problems. You need to mix it up in terms of the kind of exercise you do.”
Matthews said the yoga teachers he is seeing are young “40, 42,” and more severe cases mean patients have to undergo keyhole surgery on their hips or an entire replacement.
Matthews says he thinks new yoga teachers should be assessed to judge their mobility and ‘what their body is allowing them to do.’
Source: Harpers Bazaar