The Checkup: The New York Times Magazine Doesn’t Like Yoga

OK, that's a bit harsh. They just think yoga will "wreck your body."

• How this item slipped under my radar is beyond me, but here goes. Last Sunday, the New York Times Magazine ran a lengthy piece slugged “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”. It’s actually an excerpt from a book by Times writer William J. Broad called The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards. In the excerpt, Broad, a yogi himself, argues that sometimes—in fact, many times—yoga does more harm than good. Of his main subject, New York yoga-teacher-to-the-stars Glenn Black, he writes:

Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.

Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

Well, OK then. The article goes on to detail horrible-sounding yoga injuries like popped ribs, torn Achilles tendons, and hip joints degenerated to the point that they require surgery to fix. Scroll down to the comments (there are 734 as I write this), and you’ll see arguments on both sides of the fence, kudos from people who think the practice is just a giant accident waiting to happen, and scathing diatribes asserting sham science, poor journalism and bad sources. Someone published this pretty hilarious rant against the article just yesterday, offering six reasons to ignore it altogether. Among them: “Did yoga really cause that stroke/aneurysm? … My aunt died of a stroke too, and no one wrote an article about how eating Stouffer’s creamed chip beef and being married to a drunk asshole with orange hair causes strokes. Sometimes people just have strokes.” So, Philly yogis, what do you think? Is yoga as scary—and hazardous—as the Times makes it out to be? I’m dying to hear your comments.

• In other news, too much vitamin D is bad for your blood vessels. And if you’re looking for a more uplifting read this Thursday morning, I suggest this piece from TIME about nursing mothers offering their breast milk to an infant whose mother died of cancer a month after giving birth.