From sessions at school to the global trend it has become, we've all heard about the endless health benefits of yoga. To some, it is a lifestyle, and to yet others, a cure to every ailment you could encounter. However, too much of a good thing... is not so good anymore, and the reports are catching up.
Moderation, and The Lack Thereof
As anyone who's been practising for a while now would tell you, yoga isn't easy. It can take years to be able to form several poses, particularly the more impressive ones. Plus, each body is different. What works for somebody else may not work for you. Newcomers, brimming with enthusiasm, can overextend themselves very easily, pushing themselves to do things they're simply not ready for yet.
Beginners may not the only ones at risk, though, suggests new research. There has been a growing number of yoga teachers reporting serious hip injuries due to overexertion. In dire cases, surgery involving total hip replacements is the only option left.
The problem, says UK-based physiotherapist Benoy Matthews, lies in mistaking joint pain with stiffness. The judgement error is worsened by people attempting prescribed poses without consideration for their physiology. Simple adjustments to these can relieve the stress caused to their joints. Accompanied by a better understanding of one's own bodies' capabilities, the number of injuries could be greatly reduced.
The Gender Gap in Yoga
As is the case more often than not in recent times, the problem extends to social norms. Men are already underrepresented in the field of yoga, something made clear by the mere act of walking into a yoga class. Conventionally less flexible, several poses can prove a tougher job for them.
Nevertheless, used to toughing it out, males are much less likely to report minor injuries or discomfort, stalling until it develops into a major issue. This self-disserving nature stems from social ideas of machoism and what it means to be 'man enough.' Moreover, guys tend to look at the activity as a challenge, rather than a fun activity or stress reliever, which can easily lead to the over-exertion discussed earlier. Putting two and two together isn't hard anymore, as toxic masculinity rears its ugly head again.
Tackling the Root of the Problem
So now that we've listed the several problems associated with yoga that are yet to enter the realm of common knowledge, what can we do about this?
For starters, consider joining yoga classes with renowned professionals rather than just, you know, YouTubing it. While self-learning isn't a bad thing, a video cannot replace advice personalised to your body type and performance. Trust me, the coin you'd save with the latter option isn't worth the risk of injuries over improper technique. Medical bills can be pretty hefty.
Another important factor is to encourage listening to your body and talking about any discomfort and pain, as minute as it may seem. The best way to deal with health problems is always to avoid them altogether and taking your wellness seriously.
The trendy form of yoga emerged far too rapidly for awareness to catch up. However, now that we have more in-depth research and information readily available, why not take advantage of it?
And of course, down with toxic masculinity. And telling boys to toughen up. As a personal favour, discard any shirt that proclaims "pain is gain;" believe me, it really isn't.