Men Doing Yoga: Better Skip the Headstands

December 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

Monika Aichele

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As one of the millions of men doing yoga in America, I take exception to “Wounded Warrior Pose,” by William J. Broad (news analysis, Sunday Review, Dec. 23). It will lead many men intrigued with yoga to shun it despite its many proven benefits. Yes, any physical activity can lead to injury, if one is unwise or trying to be excessively macho.

A wise practitioner realizes his limits and adjusts accordingly. Conversely, it is the duty of a wise yoga teacher to know who is in the class and not push students beyond their limitations. I study only with teachers I trust.

One of my wise teachers told us that after 50, she began to cross off the list poses that she no longer felt made sense for her evolving body. As another wise teacher of mine likes to say, “It’s not how far you go, but how you go far.”

Of course, I learned the hard way. After a variety of minor injuries and visits to physical therapists, I no longer do poses I deem extreme. Like headstands, wheel or camel. At 60, I make sure to attend only classes that are appropriate for this phase of my life. Usually this means a vigorous session, but not beyond my natural capabilities.

Message to men: Yoga can be a marvelous physical practice that leads one to a healthy, limber body. That’s where it all starts, and there are many ancillary benefits.

Washington, Dec. 23, 2012

To the Editor:

William J. Broad’s article about injuries to men doing yoga is an important call to teachers. I came to yoga to recover from an injury. It took a lot of time and patience and practice.

And it took careful attention by my highly skilled teacher, who is also a physical therapist. She relates the age-old yoga practice to up-to-date anatomy and physiology.

I’ve had classes from many teachers throughout the country. In my experience only a few excelled at helping their students learn to practice safely.

Portland, Ore., Dec. 24, 2012

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