Yoga Can Make You Dead! But Sexy!

Yoga has gotten some more attention recently from the New York Times, the highly respected newspaper whose bestseller list includes the literary masterpiece 50 Shades of Grey.  So you know you can trust these guys.  Anyway, one of their prize “science” journalists, William Broad, wrote a book called The Science of Yoga.  In order to promote book sales warn people of the dangers of yoga, he had articles printed in the New York Times both before the printing of the hardback “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” and then later the paperback  “The Perils of Yoga for Men”.

But mostly the risks.

But mostly the risks.

I read both articles and the negative and positive reviews on Amazon.  The positive ones assured people that while the articles were biased and showed no sign of actual science, research, or journalism, the book was much more balanced.  So I checked it out of the library to find out for myself.  Now I’m going to give you my total professional opinion of this book, okay, so get ready.

It sucked.  It really did.  I tried to go into it with an open mind.  I mean, yes, recently I’ve gotten into yoga, but I’m not so into it that I can’t admit that there might be problems with it.  I think it’s common sense to look at certain poses and realize there is slight potential for stuff like muscle strains, dislocated bones, and decapitation.  And yeah, some of the claims I’ve seen are a bit out there.  I highly doubt that yoga is actually going to remove that wart on my hand or cure AIDS.  On the other hand, it does help with a lot of other ailments.  Even if some of that help is pure placebo; if it works, it works.

I see no danger here.

I see no danger here.

Not according to Broad.  This guy, who says he’s done yoga for years, seems to have some sort of personal vendetta against yoga.  He mentions sustaining an injury, but admits that this was mostly because he wasn’t paying attention, so that hardly seems enough reason to hate yoga.   I think some yogi pissed him off somehow.  Maybe a yogi stole his car, or his girlfriend, or his journalistic integrity.  I’m not sure.  But he goes above and beyond to try and prove that yoga is dangerous, and yoga instructors are untrained and/or stupid and/or malicious.

Now I’ve had my doubts about whether a class is the best place to learn yoga.  There’s not as much one on one attention, and it is true that teachers (in general) only need to have 200 hours of instruction to become certified by the National Yoga Association.  The exception to this is Bikram Yoga (the yoga done in boiler rooms) whose teachers have to have a lot more training and also be certified insane.  In most yoga classes, everyone is expected to do the same thing and not every body is exactly the same or at the same level.  So at the moment I’m considering my options.  Is it safer to trust someone who is working with several people and might not be qualified or working with myself (ie someone who is definitely not qualified) and a DVD or book.  I’m not sure.

Decisions, decisions . . .

Decisions, decisions . . .

One of Broad’s big problems is that yoga isn’t regulated by the federal government (cause we can totally trust politicians), and the injuries aren’t tracked down to the last person, so it’s possible that there are bazillions of injuries out there, all due to yoga.

Quick, everybody, throw out your yoga mats!  We’re all gonna dieeeeeee!!!!!

Of course it’s also possible that there are injuries out there related to working in a library (I can attest to that.  The secretary gave me my very own box of band-aids for my desk.) and raising children (they don’t even require 200 hours to quality for that, just like, five minutes) and writing (zomg carpal tunnel!) and come to think of it, I’m surprised I’m still alive.  These science people need to get on the ball and study this crap, pronto.

Librarian is a very risky profession.

Librarian is a very risky profession.

Anyway, I read the book, peeps, I did.  I didn’t see a lot of documented science there.  I saw a lot cherry-picking and ego-tripping (he is like TOTALLY the very first guy to ever realize that people can get hurt doing yoga you guyz!) and sensationalism.  The most controversial chapter was about yoga injuries.  He had some questionable studies from the seventies and a couple of individual stories.  In one a woman sustains injuries by falling asleep while in a forward bend.  Who the hell does this?  I think my chances of falling asleep while folded up are rather low, personally.  Same for the guy who sat meditating for days at a time.  You  mean that might get sore after a while?  You THINK?

His biggest scare is the STROKE warning.  It IS possible to have a stroke while doing yoga.  Also while getting your hair done at the beauty parlor.  And while reading 50 Shades of Grey (maybe not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.)  The biggest reason behind people getting strokes comes from people bending their necks all crazy.  So don’t bend your neck in weird directions, okay, guys?  There.  I have officially saved your life. Give me my Pulitzer now.

QUICK!  Save the KITTEHS!

QUICK! Save the KITTEHS!

He does talk about more than injuries (although the OMG YOGA IS SCARY) is sprinkled liberally throughout the book.  He says yoga can make you fat.  No, really.  That’s why there are all those fatty yogis out there, doncha know?  He says it slows down your metabolism.  Okay, so yoga isn’t going to trim you up as much or as fast as frantic aerobics (unless you try that Kandalini chick’s stuff) but people do lose weight.  Part of this comes from the mental changes.  He acknowledges that Yoga is good for depression and other people with whacked out brains.  But even this bears a hint of condescension.  Like, okay, so it helps people with the mentals, but nothing physically, and that’s we want, right?  Nevermind that whole mind-body connection thing that’s been studied with actual credible studies.  Pfft.

But here I’ve almost missed the best part, the other part that is also liberally sprinkled throughout the book.  Sex.  Sex, sex, sex.  Yoga, according to Broad’s research, was founded by sex-crazed perverts called Tantras.  That’s where Tantric Yoga comes from, and all those revered gurus?  Yeah, they were like having crazy yogasms all over the place with girls, girls, girls!  The scandal!  I mean, have you ever heard of a man in power having indiscriminate sex?  I know!  I was shocked too.  But it’s true – if you do yoga, you will get huge sexual rushes.  This makes me especially concerned about my last post on yoga for children.  But hey, it’s never too early for sex education, huh?

Of course, this leads to a bit of confusion.  Yoga is not going to make you fit.  In fact, it’s probably going to kill you dead.  On the other hand, yoga will give you really hot sex.  Decisions, decisions.  Dead or sex?  I will have to meditate on this a while.  If I don’t get back to you, well, if the mat’s a rockin’, don’t come knockin’, kay?

Got this off pinterest.  Not sure where this is from, but I love it.

Got this off pinterest. Not sure where this is from, but I love it.

Alice

P.S. Have you guys read the book or the articles?  What’s your opinion?

65 responses

  1. I find science often gets in the way of my crack-pot opinions. That’s why I ignore it. Did you know that not reading Speaker7.wordpress.com causes strokes?!?!? Science!

    1. I actually have read that which is why I make sure I don’t miss a single post.

    2. Me neither. I think I’m pretty secure there. I’m going to do a study about missing aliceatwonderland.wordpress.com and see what happens. There. Done. No strokes, but a definite rise in Diabetes cases. I recommend you keep a steady diet of my blog.

  2. That’s interesting; I read it a few months ago (but not the preceding articles/publicity) and had a really different response. I took from it more that he was saying, some people who are into yoga make out it is the answer to all ills, but of course it’s not – it does some things really well, some things not so much, and like any form of exercise, you can injure yourself. And serious injuries are very rare and all seemed to be the clearly daft practices you mention, such as being in the same position for hours. (I too cannot imagine *ever* being in a seated forward bend that it was possible to fall asleep in!). I also didn’t pick up on the author having any ‘vendetta’ – would he have been doing yoga since the 70s or whatever if that was the case? – though possibly, yes, issues with under-trained teachers and waffly yoga claims (like all the breathe deeply and oxygenate your blood stuff).
    I’ll be interested to know what your other readers think too!

    1. Oh, I think he had the basis for a very good book. I just didn’t like the way he went about it. I was expecting him to debunk a lot of the really far out yoga claims (like when they say this pose fixes your liver and removes the thetan toxins or whatever but don’t tell why or how) with science that showed how this wasn’t even possible. I’m sure that’s out there. Instead he focuses on old studies and a few rare cases about injuries, trying to up the scare-o-meter. It smacked of sensationalism to me.

      I tried to keep an open mind, but as I read I just did not like the attitude I saw seeping in his writing. A kind of know-it-all look how stupid these yoga people are. As if all people practicing yoga are so deluded it never occurred to them that they could get hurt? Yeah, I agree that teachers DO need more training and SHOULD take a wake-up call not to believe their own hype. No one should be forcing students into headstands. It’s clear that this could be a dangerous move. No need to overstate the threat of strokes. Just say “hey, don’t let people force you into moves you aren’t ready for – period.” Oh, and you aren’t ready for headstands until you’ve had years of yoga. These are all important messages, but they was lost underneath Broad’s false claims and his own hype.

      I tried to find where he speaks of his love for yoga. I didn’t see it. Whenever he mentioned something positive about yoga, it was almost always downplayed, or followed by a negative. For instance, he goes on and on and on about how you can’t get fit doing yoga because you aren’t raising your heart rate up enough blah blah and then gives like a sentence to “well some people say it changes your mental state about food” but he paid it almost no mind. It was like, well, yoga can help you feel less depressed, but forget about it having physical effects, or the physical and the mental affecting each other. Well, except with sex. I’ve never had a yogasm, but I have experienced inner peace. THAT is what yoga is really about, but his supposed research has it coming from some perverted sexual source. That bugged me. I worry that people will see this and not do yoga at all, and miss all the benefits.

      Sorry for such a long response comment! There are plenty of people who did like his book and that’s fine. I would urge you to read the articles in the New York Times that he endorsed right before the publishing of his book in both formats. That right there was aimed at getting money and attention. The opposite of what yoga should be about. I also have a critical but fair review from a medical doctor he mentions in the book that is very well done, if you’d like a link to it. Thanks for the response!

      1. Oh, I think people are entitled to comment for as long as they want on their own blogs! Yes, I’d be interested to have the link to the doctor’s review.
        I will need to read it again someday with an Alice hat on. I actually was interested in the cardiovascular stuff – that has always been my impression, that yoga could up your CV health only if you were pretty unfit and if you were doing something like ashtanga yoga, which I did for a while and really didn’t like. I decided to get my cardio fitness from things like dance classes/running (not any more!) instead and keep yoga for flexibility, core strength and calming myself down. Anyway, I was interested in the heart studies and also the stuff about oxygen/CO2 as I’ve been in many yoga classes where the teachers say physiologically bizarre things about that. I didn’t care too much either way about the ‘very small but scary risks’ chapter or the Tantric info. And I know from personal experience what yoga can do for back pain and mood (although seeing wider research is always nice). What I was hoping for was more of the stuff like the chapters on the heart and breathing – exactly what you said about ‘this pose fixes your liver and removes the thetan toxins’. My experience of yoga over the last quarter century is there are far too many teachers who make claims like ‘this asana tones your kidneys and rejuvenates your digestion’ (I think usually with good intentions and faith in the person who told them), without any actual evidence. And I’m always sitting there with part of me going ‘really? how does it do that? show me the double blind randomised trial.’
        Maybe THAT is the yoga book you could write?! Although I’m not so sure the evidence is actually out there, yet. My husband’s a doc and he’s shown me proper studies on yoga and um…I think it was back pain, arthritis and depression (not all at once 😉 ). They were all fairly recent.
        I’m going to shut up now 🙂

        1. I’m like you – I wanted more of that as well. More of the, well, science stuff. I’d already read that yoga didn’t do much for cardio (in a yoga book) unless it was the power stuff which makes sense. It’s strength training, which has always been different than cardio – it’s a good idea to do a little of both. Speaking of – I should get back into doing more walking or using my bike.

          I really want it to help my neck, but it seems I just keep messing with my other muscles instead. Slow – I have to remember things take TIME, something tough for Westerners. Oh, and here’s the article I spoke about. I have his book and it’s a really good one. http://www.drmccall.com/yoga/manbitesdowndog.pdf

          Oh, and don’t shut up! I like hearing your viewpoint. 😀

          1. Thank you! I’ve got ‘Yoga as Medicine’ *cough* I mean I got my husband it as a birthday present and … yes well it’s on my yoga shelf now. Is that the book you have? I’ll read the link article later, thanks for that.
            Slow – gads yes. At the rate I’m going with my hamstrings I will literally be 60 before I’ve stretched them out enough to do a forward bend with straight legs. Just got to keep telling myself it’s the journey that counts. Which it actually is – if I didn’t do regular hamstring stretches, I’d be in horrendous shape by now. Still, I’d love to be able to float forwards into a relaxed straight leg forward bend NOW. Dammit.

          2. Yeah, that’s the book. And as for the hamstrings – ME TOO. Those stupid chair poses are the absolute worst. Simple, but killer on my legs OW. The Yoga teach loves doing those with the Sun Salutations. Ugh. Same with the forward bends. At least I can just bend my knees there.

  3. Ah, self-important (and male) authors…I can’t get enough of them.

    1. Yes, it sucks just because he’s male. Of course, we know that all female authors are perfect….

      1. Of course, TD. 😉

      2. That’s not what I meant…

        1. What did you mean, then? That’s how it read to me.

          1. I meant that I find the “self-important” part more in male authors than female ones. Maybe that’s because of the outlets I read, or because there are more of them in those outlets or whatever, but, unfortunately, I’m not surprised to find that quality in male authors, especially not in the paper of records. Female authors can “suck” just as much, and I’m not saying that none of them come across as self-important.

          2. I have found that “self-importance” has more to do with society status and upbringing more than it has to do with your gender. I have met many of these people and they are bound to no gender or race. Making a generalized statement such as that makes you look sexist, quite frankly. I don’t know you so I can say for sure that you are, but that’s the way that comment read to me.

          3. *Can’t say for sure…

          4. I don’t think I am, but you’re entitled to think that. It’s just my personal impression for now.

      3. I leave you guys alone for a few minutes and look what happens. I agree that both men and women can be self-important. I think part of the problem may be in how yoga is something practiced (in America) much more by women than by men, so a man putting it down so much could make it worse than a woman doing it. Maybe? I might be out there on that one.

        1. I don’t know enough about Yoga to comment one way or the other. I just know that the one comment rubbed me the wrong way. Didn’t mean to hijack your blog and stuph. Sorry.

          1. No problem. I do it all the time. 😀

          2. Well, yeah. But you do it in a fun way. At least, on my blog you do.

  4. If he’s trying to warn us off yoga it didn’t really work. Good sex then death sounds pretty good.

    1. haha, true!
      but he’s not anti-yoga – he’s been practising yoga for years (and I assume had some good sex too?)

    2. It’s a good way to go out anyway. Still waiting on my yogasm, though.

  5. Sometimes when I’m commenting I zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    OUCH A HAMSTRING! A STROKE! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    1. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I mean, right now I’m standing on my head and I just can’t keep my eyes OPEN!

      1. It’s hard – often when I’m in the boiler room I think – wow, I need to slezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        1. Haha, I was writing that and going I CAN”T WAIT FOR RUTY TO SEE THIS. Wooot. 😀 Seriously, though, I think it does say something that it requires teachers to have more training. Still not going to sweat like that though.

          Oh, the author really hated Bikram too. I bet he stole his woman.

          1. HA HA~ Bikram is very controversial – so many people have to be involved with their opinions…

            I was waiting for an insanity comment from my favorite Alice ~ I can take it – I am not offended. It’s crazy – but it’s MY crazy – so I’m good with it.

  6. I advocate never doing any kind of exercise because you could hurt yourself – in fact – stop moving altogether for complete safety.

    1. I think that’s wise. Try not to eat or breathe either. You don’t know what’s in that stuff.

  7. Since they took science and math out of schools and replaced them with art and music, we can’t really expect anyone to respect scientific research now-a-days. (snark)

    1. Can’t expect them to respect ANY research. I mean, I had to do more research on my high school English papers AND actually cite my sources yet professional journalists, reporters, and writers now can just wing it. Like when all those respected news networks reported on the dentist that removed all her boyfriend’s teeth before realizing it was a hoax. Um, fact check ANYONE?

      1. What’s a fact? lol, just kidding.
        But seriously…hoaxes become real stories (like the dentist) while there are real stories about hoaxes (Manti Te’o)…it’s a wonder there hasn’t been a boycott on newstations yet. Sheesh.

        1. The bad thing is that no one wants to pay for news anymore – just use internetz! A lot of papers are going out of business. So you get, well, what you pay for, I guess.

  8. “I think it’s common sense to look at certain poses and realize there is slight potential for stuff like muscle strains, dislocated bones, and decapitation.”—Thank you!! I remember when these articles came out. Suddenly everyone is saying, “See? Yoga is bad for you.” Any sport or exercise risks injury. Duh. As with everything, one has to use common sense. If done properly and uniquely to each individual, yoga offers far more benefits than harm.

    Nicely done. I haven’t read the book, so I loved reading your run down of it. And like you, I highly doubt I’ll ever fall asleep doing yoga. Except for maybe during corpse pose, but the sound of my kids thundering feet on the floor above me kind of precludes that…

    1. I admit when I read them at first I was scared. I was telling my husband “My back hurts, what if I did the pose wrong and I did this to myself? Yikes.” And he was like, “Well, yeah, but it could also be that you’re just working your back for the first time in years and that kind of hurts?” Oh, right. That’s a good point there.

      1. I don’t do head stands, and I do a very cautious plow pose. And you’re right–some of the back poses can push things a bit far. It’s all about listening to your body, isn’t it.

  9. Yoga is totally dangerous! Wait, what’s yoga again? 😛

  10. I do Bikram Yoga which is heat + yoga + humiliation. In my class, most of the people have been practicing for years so they’re flexible and look sexy in their tight workout clothes. I look like a chubby pretzel who doesn’t even know the definition of stretching.

    1. Don’t you love when the newbies get there wearing white clothes?

    2. They don’t offer Bikram around here, I don’t think. We have Christian Yoga, though. Which is not at all weird. But at least there aren’t many flexible and sexy people there so I feel okay.

  11. What about white water rafting? Bungee jumping? And other extreme sports? They’re a lot scarier! But then again I might just be biased because I really like that Yoga will make me sexy. Dead, but sexy. I’d take one of the sexy please. Especially with those kitteh.

    1. You mean you could get hurt tying a cord around your ankle and jumping off a cliff ZOMG alert the media!!! No, wait, I’m writing a book. Well, if I survive my yogasm, I will.

  12. […] Yoga Can Make You Dead! But Sexy! (aliceatwonderland.wordpress.com) […]

  13. A very healthy fit friend of mine recently suffered a hernia. The Dr told her that all the Pilates and yoga was not doing her abdominal wall any good. “So how am I to keep my flat tummy all my friends are so envious of?” She asks.
    “Have a tummy tuck” he replies.

    1. That would do it. I love when the stars have babies and say they got their tummies in shape in like three weeks with diet and exercise. Yeah, um, and where exactly did you store the extra skin?

  14. I’m surprise he doesn’t talk about the things you see (balls hanging out of the shorts), hear (farts) and smell (farts) during Yoga. I should send him a letter asking why he didn’t touch those crucial facts about Yoga.
    Sex and Yoga for kids, is it pushing our youth into promiscuity?
    Nice post Alice.

    1. Thank you. Those are important issues. Especially when doing Bikram Yoga. If the heat is turned up and you’ve already got sweaty people and you had farts and random body parts laying around, you’ve got potential there.

  15. Jennifer Butler Basile | Reply

    I vote for dead sexy! Thanks for making me laugh out loud.

    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for reading. 😀

  16. Sounds like he’s talking out of his backside. Not read any of it but maybe he had a girlfriend who was a yogi and she ran off with another yogi for all of this tantric sex stuff? Or maybe he’s just a boring idiot.

    Incidently saw an article in The Times yesterday (or maybe Tuesday) about 50 Shades having been translated into Chinese and being sold over there. They quoted one reviewer who stated that the book is “a love story and it’s about the compromises you make for the person you love” or some such manure…

    1. Oh, man, those poor Chinese people. I mean, they had their girls keep their feet bound for years because the men thought their deformed feet were pretty. Way to move them back a few centuries, E.L.!

      Compromises for the person you love – yeah, like safety, independence, self-respect . . .

      1. Funny how everyone sees Ana’s compromises as being some huge romantic gesture. Does Christipoo make any compromises? I’m guessing not as he’s a sadistic control freak who beats people up when he doesn’t get his own way.

        1. He compromises by letting Ana share oxygen. As long as she does as she’s told, that is.

          1. Hmmn… I’m not sure that’s exactly a compromise. Mainly because he makes that compromise with his houseplants as well…

      2. Just seen this via facebook so went to find the original link to share with you: http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=4307

  17. I tried yoga once. Now, I have a daughter. Coincidence? Maybe…..

    1. Things that make you go ommmmm, er, hmmmmmm.

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