One of the effects of last week's to-do over yoga injuries was to propel a new book entitled The Science of Yoga into the upper reaches of Amazon.com's most popular yoga books. This was no coincidence, since the fire-starting article in The New York Times ("How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body") was adapted from this forthcoming book. That's a lot of buzz for a book that hasn't even been published yet. Luckily, I was given an advance copy for review and I discovered quite a few surprises.
In his new book The Science of Yoga, William J. Broad, a leading science journalist for The New York Times, sheds some light on the mounting evidence both in support of and against some of yoga's oft-quoted maxims. Over the course of seven chapters, covering topics like physical fitness, mood, injury, and sex, Broad aptly interprets new data, unearths some previously unrecognized studies, and clears up a few physiological misunderstandings along the way.
All this talk about yoga injuries got me thinking about how important it is to find really good yoga teachers right from the beginning of your practice. It's a tough thing to quantify, although years of experience and training are good places to start. You also want someone you connect with and can trust. So, where are you going to find this wonderful person who will change your life? I've hesitated to criticize gym yoga in the past, since so many good teachers I know do double duty teaching at yoga studios and gyms, but I do think that yoga in a gym setting has greater possibility of putting an inexperienced teacher in a setting that encourages maxing out your physical capacity...Read more
As I mentioned in a recent blog post about yoga injuries, I know that it's possible to hurt yourself doing chaturanga dandasana because I have done so myself. It can put a lot of stress on the shoulders, so if you are doing sun salutations, I always recommend warming up with a few rounds of knees, chest, chin and cultivating the awareness to revert to that pose or skip the vinyasa when you start to get tired. Having recovered from my tweaked shoulder, I've been working on refining the alignment of my chaturanga. One of my teachers pointed out that it's tough to get the desired right angle with your arms if you are pushing back into your heels when lowering down, as is often instructed. Instead, try bringing your plank forward a bit before lowering. Try not to let your body dip below the level of your upper arms. It's a lot of work on the arms, but it's a safer position for your joints.