We’re calling it now: 2012’s best Non-Controversy (Nontroversy?) of the Year is going to New York Times Magazine’s excerpt of “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.” The item in question ran over the weekend; part of a book by yogi William J. Broad, who claimed that people can get seriously hurt or injured or dead from practicing yoga. Notice the word “can” in the title. Yoga can wreck your body. Not “Yoga Will Wreck Your Body.” It’s a subtle distinction that most of the article’s readers seemed to have missed.
Instead of saying “Namaste” and moving on with their lives, yoga disciples are coming out of the woodwork to decry Mr. Broad as a traitor and fear-monger. Some of the yogis used in the article have been interviewed by other publications to say Mr. Broad misquoted them. Other places are jumping on the brand new thought-train that holding positions for long periods of time can do your body damage in the long run.
In the end, this whole debate is a non-starter because, as Sarah Miller from The Awl points out, “Yes, you can get injured doing yoga; you can also get injured walking across the street.”
We found the 10 best articles that capture the absurdity of this Times health scandal du jour. Enjoy, and remember: take deep breaths.
1. Six Reasons To Ignore The ‘New York Times’ Yoga Article – The Awl (Clearly the top winner, as it’s given the highly-cited award on Google, and is mentioned almost as the article itself.)
2. Yoga Need Not Wreck Your Body – Salon
4. Yogi Glenn Black Responds to New York Times Article on Yoga – The Huffington Post (Black was also quoted extensively in the Times Magazine article)
5. Yoga Won’t Wreck Your Body But May Make You More Hindu– The Huffington Post, again (HuffPo had approximately five “responses” in total to the item. Two of them were about how not to get hurt in yoga class, while two others claimed that yoga cannot “wreck” one’s body.)
6. Should You Give Up Yoga? Experts Respond to the New York Times’ “Yoga-Can-Wreck-You” Controversy – AlterNet (The answer is, of course, no. To be fair, Mr. Broad only cited a few extreme cases in which someone would have to stop practicing yoga entirely for medical reasons.)
7. The Dangers of Yoga – Men’s Fitness (Finally, someone sticking up for the little guy by agreeing with The New York Times!)
8. The New York Times Magazine Doesn’t Like Yoga – Philadelphia Magazine
9. Any article with a question mark at the end, to show you that the author of the piece is not taking sides but wants to get in on the coverage: Is Yoga Bad for You? A Debate – The Atlantic; Is yoga ruining your body? – Globe and Mail; Strokes, retina damage and trapped nerves: Is yoga doing us more harm than good? – Daily Mail
10. NBC Nightly News’ segment on yoga dangers, including a doctor that says “I see a ton of yoga injuries.” Also, “There are no definitive numbers, but a Columbia University survey reveals injuries…” Fear-mongering is so hot right now.