✅ Fact Checked
🧘 If you only got 30 seconds:
Yoga is often described as a gentle, low-impact, and calming practice. True, yoga offers some amazing benefits and is often prescribed to people who can’t practice high-impact and more vigorous types of exercise.
However, despite its stellar reputation as an injury-free practice, yoga may also come with some risks: both for your physical body and mental health.
Read on to learn:
- how yoga can damage your back, wrists, and shoulders
- why yoga for mental health can bring even more stress and anxiety
- how much yoga is too much
- who shouldn’t practice yoga
1/4 Why yoga is bad for your body?
Modern yoga styles involve physical movement and often complex ones. Naturally, practicing fast and challenging yoga types increases the risk of injury, just like any kind of physical exercise would.
What’s more, yoga involves repetitive movements – think Vinyasa flows with multiple push-ups Chaturangas and Downward Facing Dogs. These repetitive asanas can lead to an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder strain, and tendinitis.
Finally, yoga places a lot of focus on flexibility, often without balancing it with strength and stability – essential elements for a well-rounded physical practice. As a result, many new yogis leave the studio with destabilized joints, strains, sprains.
The worst part? The physical risks of yoga haven’t been noticed until a few years ago when stories of yoga-induced injuries began to appear in the media. That’s when the journalists of the New York Times found that practicing in the scorching heat of Bikram studio could increase overstretching, muscle damage, and cartilage tear.
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2/4 Is yoga dangerous for back?
Back pain is very tricky and there are millions of causes for back pain and injury. Lack of exercise, too much exercise, prolonged sitting, weak core…
While yoga may not be necessarily the reason for your back pain, it can make your back pain worse.
Yoga involves a lot of rounding and forward folds. But trying to touch your toes when forward folding is the last thing you want to do to relieve your lower back pain.
On top of that, overstretching and awkward form in yoga poses such as Cobra or Upward Facing dog can also exacerbate back pain issues.
3/4 Can too much yoga be bad for you?
Yes, you can overdo yoga and end up with some serious injuries. Also, practicing one type of yoga too much can exacerbate existing injuries or even cause new ones, for example, repetitive strain injuries.
To stay on the safe side, you need to balance your strength-building yoga practice with a relaxing one and vice versa. If you do yoga every day, for example, do Vinyasa on Monday, Yin yoga on Tuesday, and Hatha on Wednesday. This way you’ll balance flexibility with muscle work and breathing practice.
You can read more about how often to do yoga based on your goals here.
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4/4 Can yoga have negative effects on mental health?
There’s new evidence that too much mindfulness can actually have a negative effect on our mental health.
Participants who took part in a 3-months long mindfulness meditation practice have reported experiencing such adverse effects as:
- increased anxiety
- disrupted sleep
- feeling emotionless
A small percentage of participants said the bad effects from prolonged meditation have lasted for a month or more.
Many yoga styles include meditation as an essential component of the practice, which means it might as well cause some unexpected negative effects on mental health.
Who should not do yoga?
Yoga is generally a pretty safe exercise for healthy people when practiced responsibly and under a supervision of a trained professional. If you have underlying health issues or you’re new to yoga and exercise, always get a clearance from your doctor before starting your practice.
Some groups of people should also be extra cautious when practicing yoga and modify yoga poses when needed.
Be sure to inform your yoga teacher if you meet one of the following conditions:
- pregnancy (here are some poses to avoid)
- past injury and/or serious surgery
- blood pressure issues and/or heart disease