William Broad strikes again.
The author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards and the controversial New York Times articles "Wounded Warrior Pose" and "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" just keeps on chipping away at the confidence of health-loving yogi’s everywhere.
Last week ABC2, WMAR-TV Baltimore re-ran the story of Michael Conti, a formerly active middle-aged man who sustained nerve damage in his knee and blamed yoga for the injury. The story of how Conti contacted Broad first aired in April of 2013, four months after the Wounded Warrior Pose article was published in the times. Why after 6 months did a Baltimore news station decide to finally run the story? Who knows, but it has fueled the men’s yoga fire once more and prompted a slew of fresh responses.
Broad’s pair of articles have prompted responding pieces of writing from Yoga Journal, The Blaze, Men’s Health Magazine and countless bloggers eager to have their opinions and stories heard. Many of these stories tear Broad’s articles apart, citing among other things: inaccurate data, incomplete sources and in general, subjectivity presented as objectivity, and many list reasons why yoga is great for men.
When hearing Michael Conti’s story on the news, or watching the video the viewer is only shown a piece of the whole picture. William Broad is in fact a daily practitioner of yoga. While his media attention has been skewed toward yoga-bashing, and his articles don’t do much to correct that viewpoint, the attention he brings to yoga injuries is relevant and he has a valid, (sexist, but valid) point. People who see yoga as a competition are more likely to sustain injuries.
That definitely doesn’t mean that men should avoid yoga.
Guys get the same benefits from a regular yoga practice that women do: strength and flexibility gains, lower blood pressure, stress release, mental clarity, increased energy and libido, increased immune response, peace of mind, etc. And with a growing number of men’s only yoga studios (Broga) and classes, opportunities for safe man-yoga abound.
Sure, when competition enters the picture the number of injuries is likely to rise, but the point that Broad leaves out of his articles is that this statement is true for any activity, not only yoga. Running, swimming, team sports, playing trash-can basketball can all become dangerous when we get all fired up about them.
The bottom line is if a person lets his (or HER) ego enter their yoga practice, they are more likely to put their bodies into positions that are inappropriate for their level of flexibility. They will not gain flexibility or strength, lose weight, get tougher, etc. by doing so. One of the goals of yoga is to separate the ego from the practice. There is no perfect pose, there is no good, better, best. There is only a body and a mat.
So practice on dudes, chicks, everyone. The mat is yours.
Sarah Monk is a die-hard Coloradan, running addict and yoga instructor. Her passion is empowering young women through fitness, and does this by coaching several high school girls sports teams. She lives in Fort Collins with her yummy boyfriend and their two hairy kids, Nikki and Gala. Currently Sarah is helping to grow the YogaTravelTree.com community as Outreach Coordinator. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @FoCoYogini and on Instagram: @Badkukie