Erica Bornstein is a yoga teacher, dancer, and lover of all movement. Erica believes that yoga can be an embodied art form, a stimulated workout, a lifestyle, a tool for therapeutic relaxation, or a form of spirituality. Overall, yoga is an accommodating practice, accessible to all people, that requires only loving care for the mind and body and the willingness to cherish your own breath. Erica also believes that you only live once and you shouldn't torture yourself with workouts you don't enjoy!

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The Dancing Yogini

by Erica Bornstein, Yoga, Dance, and Fitness Instructor

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.... is the title of a very popular New York Times article that went viral today and is causing much controversy in the yoga community as we speak.

Check out the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

This article is an amalgam of different situations in which yoga has caused severe injury to individuals. The article makes valid and distinct points, and all should be considered when diving into a regular yoga practice.

What is not mentioned in this article is that there can be severe injury and risk with any exercise or sport you choose. Anything done in excess can lead to injury. Yes, these injuries mentioned are scary and may make you not want to go back to your yoga class, but if you Google other athletic injuries, you can find all of the same stories.

Yoga, first and foremost, is a spiritual practice. It is about the connection between your mind and your body and using your breath to keep you present and focused. Yoga is called a practice for the very reason that it is just that: a practice, not a performance. The physical asanas (poses) are achieved over much time with patience, compassion and practice. It is when you lose sight of that and you let your ego take over that you can get hurt.

For example, today at the gym, you may see the girl on the mat next to you in a full backbend (upward bow pose) and you think, "Oh, I should be doing that too." If you force yourself into these poses, which clearly you are not ready for, you will probably injure yourself! That is the reason there are so many stages (kramas) of the poses. You need to trust the process and know that these poses do not happen instantly.

The point is that anything practiced without using mindfulness can wreck your body. Pay attention, use your breath, and realize that your own wisdom and intuition is your most powerful possession... so use it! Do your research and find a great yoga teacher, and if you're still worried…talk with your doctor! Yoga is beneficial for many people…and we'd hate for you to write it off because of this article!

@ 12:13pm ET on January 6, 2012
Thanks for sharing this, Erica. I think people sometimes forget that yoga instructors are not doctors or physical therapists. While yoga does sometimes provide relief from some injuries, it cannot take the place of medical treatment.

I agree completely that if the ego takes over, injury is a real possibility. Practitioners of any athletic discipline need to learn to read their body's warning signs and respect them!

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