Disadvantages of Yoga
Yoga has become so popular thanks to its ability to enhance overall well-being, flexibility, and reduce stress. Unlike other exercises that come and go or are constantly changing, yoga poses stand the test of time and remain amongst the recommended. Yoga is hailed for its ability to firm up the body, soothe the nerves and tone down anxiety. However, did you know that if you do any pose the wrong way, then instead of reaping the expected benefits, the negative effects become detrimental to your health? So can yoga lead to a fatal outcome? What are the disadvantages of yoga, and which poses should you avoid?
Yoga, just like any other exercise, has its advantages and disadvantages. However, this is not a reason enough to avoid it at all costs because the risks of yoga can easily be eliminated by practicing the poses correctly. However, before you rush off to the nearest class, first educate yourself on the disadvantages of yoga so that you can make an informed decision.
What are the disadvantages of yoga?
For many years the practice of yoga has been associated with good health and vitality. While there are numerous styles, the poses knock down stress levels, blood pressure, and heart rate (7). However, it also comes with its own cons. So what are the risks of doing yoga?
Yoga, as a form of exercise, has to be done the right way and in moderation. Otherwise it increases risks of injury (2).
When a student and even a teacher has low muscle strength or any other form of physical weakness, then they put themselves at a greater risk of sustaining a serious injury by doing the physical postures. Furthermore, quick movements and poses that extend the neck or those that stretch the vertebrae extensively can cause brain injuries.
Extreme neck and head rotation can injure vertebral arteries resulting in swelling and production of clots that increase the chances of getting a stroke. Therefore, the poses are ideal for an individual with a good health condition and can cause mild to permanent injuries when taken to the extremes.
Certain poses may do more harm than good to people with osteoporosis. This is because the posture increases soft tissue and bone injury and may even cause muscle strain. People who experience knee, neck, hip, and back pain are in a high risk group. The poses which include supported headstand also known as Salamba Sirsasana, bridge and downward dog pose have been linked to osteoporosis as they involve extending or flexing the spinal cord (4).
These poses have been linked to over 20 types of bone injuries including compression fractures and disk degeneration. So does it mean that individuals with osteoporosis should avoid yoga? Of course not. However, modifying the poses to accommodate your health status and to fit your current needs reduces the negative effects.
Hot yoga disadvantages
Although Bikram Choudhury made hot yoga famous, the heat and demanding nature of the poses makes a yogi more prone to injury. For starters, the poses are done for 90 minutes in a room with 40% humidity and temperature of around 40 C, which results in various illnesses such as dehydration and heatstroke. Besides, increased respiratory rates, blood vessel dilations, and damage to the brain, heart, and lungs have been associated with high body temperature (1).
Extensive muscle, tendon, and ligament stretch, which results in strains, tears, and body injuries that may take more time to heal, are other disadvantages of hot yoga. Therefore, people with heart diseases, heat intolerance, and other heat-related illnesses should avoid hot yoga (6).
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Overdoing yoga poses
Is too much yoga bad? Of course. Injuries can happen in any sport or exercise, but the risk of serious injuries is often high when overdoing a particular exercise, including yoga. For instance, placing your full body weight on your hands may cause joint injuries. Additionally, the disadvantages of yoga exercises extend to people who are still recovering from a recent medical treatment or surgery. This is because certain postures might aggravate the injuries, which means you won’t recover faster.
Whether or not you will experience yoga risks depends on your instructor. You can’t just buy a mat, download a video, and start doing the postures. You want to make sure that the chosen physical exercise is beneficial and doesn’t put your health or body at risk. Besides if you are new to the practice then you have little or no experience about the right poses. Hence you are more likely to reap the benefits with a trained and experienced instructor guiding you every step of the way.
Disadvantages of yoga and meditation
Meditation, which is a form of mental exercise, is beneficial for those who want to live a stress-free life. The mindfulness techniques create calmness and may eradicate distractive thoughts. This form of exercise doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done anywhere and at any time. However, a wrong meditation technique can do more harm than good. Downsides to yoga and meditation include panic attacks, depression, anxiety, negative thinking, and resurfacing of traumatic childhood memories (3).
Experiencing any of these challenges while meditating doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. Instead, understanding that potential dangers do exist would help you heal by knowing which challenges to deal with.
What yoga poses are unsafe during pregnancy
Pregnant women often use yoga as a way to relax, stay fit, and practice breathing exercises which come in handy during labor. Prenatal yoga also improves sleep, reduces back pain, stress, and strengthens muscles needed during childbirth (5).
However, unsafe postures such as those that require contraction of the abdomen, intense backbends, rapid movements, breath retention, deep twists, and full inversion should be avoided or modified. So instead of focusing more on endurance or flexibility, pregnant moms should use postures that enhance strength and stability. Hot yoga, which is done in extreme heat, increases the risk of dehydration and overheating both for the mother and baby (8). Hence it should be avoided by pregnant women.
Which yoga poses are dangerous?
Various yoga-related injuries cause people to ask, can you die from yoga? Hard to execute poses can be considered dangerous for a beginner and wrong postures also increase the risk of injuries. Additionally, a pose is deemed to be dangerous if it causes strain and damage to a particular body part.
For instance, the frog pose puts the soft tissue and ligaments found in ankles and knees at risk from twisting dangerously. However, beginners are not always in a position to accurately judge which postures are the most dangerous; only an experienced yogi can do that. Besides, no pose is completely free from any risks, and anyone can injure themselves because of lack of knowledge on flexibility, strength, or how much strain the body can take. Therefore, practicing safe yoga with an instructor is a great way to reduce injury.
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Who should not do yoga?
If you are pregnant or have an injury, then you should avoid some poses. Individuals that predominantly lead a sedentary lifestyle should also avoid complex postures. It goes without saying that if you hate doing unique physical postures and don’t believe in the benefits it can give your body then you are better off doing some other type of exercise.
Besides, everyone has their own preferences and doing any physical posture requires a positive and open mind. However, you don’t have to do it daily or feel guilty if you miss a class. Be flexible and choose poses that meet your needs and those which are beneficial to you.
You should not use it as an escape tool to avoid dealing with your real problems. While yoga is a great stress reliever, it’s not a problem-solving skill for family conflicts, work problems, or any other daily challenges. However, doing the postures does give you a clear set of mind and works as a supplement to a healthy mind and body. People who are looking for quick fixes will not find the poses effective.
Yoga advocates for holistic wellness, but it’s not a replacement for healthy eating and regular exercise. You have to put in the work and practice at a level suitable for you.
How can I do yoga safely?
The combination of mental and physical exercise is often the main reason why people start doing yoga. For a beginner, it’s ideal to know what are some advantages and disadvantages of yoga before trying out any pose. The fun part about doing different postures is that it doesn’t have an age limit or body type. Young, old, fit, and overweight individuals can start the exercise and enjoy it.
The trick to doing the poses safely and avoiding the disadvantages of yoga is never to force your body to do more than it can handle. Always listen to your body and accept its limits. Remember to breathe, take a break in between the poses, and whenever you want to further the practice find an expert.
Yoga continues to gain momentum because its benefits are as good as any other form of exercise. However, it doesn’t come without risks. That is why it’s essential to learn about the disadvantages of yoga in order to prevent any injuries.
If you feel not ready to practice some yoga, why don’t you start with another type of exercises? Take up this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Between Extremes: Health Effects of Heat and Cold (2015, nccih.nih.gov)
- How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body (2012, nytimes.com)
- Is mindfulness making us ill? (2016, theguardian.com)
- Osteoporosis: Some yoga poses may cause bone injuries (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Prenatal yoga: What you need to know (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- What is hot yoga? (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Yoga in pregnancy: Many poses are safer than once though (2015, health.harvard.edu)