A couple of years ago, almost everyone I know started doing yoga.
I even gave it a shot for a couple of weeks before an unfortunate pose turned into an even more unfortunate back injury.
For most folks, though, the fitness trend hasn’t lost any of its appeal.
Yoga combines meditation with core training, flexibility, and balance, and it’s also associated with spirituality.
All of these things combined have resulted in millions of people practising yoga throughout the world, which in turn has resulted in a need for more yoga instructors.
While it might sound like the perfect zen job, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Benoy Matthews, a leading UK-based physiotherapist, warns he is seeing increasing numbers of yoga teachers with serious hip problems – many of whom require surgery – because they are pushing their bodies too hard.
Mr Matthews, a specialist hip and knee physiotherapist and member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, says he sees four to five yoga teachers a month.
He says the problem lies in people repeatedly pushing their bodies into “prescribed” positions, when their physiology prevents it.
Those with more advanced problems end up in surgery. Some have even needed hip replacements.
“If there is a pinching or blocking feeling in the groin, it shouldn’t be ignored. You have to know your limits.”
“We all know about the health benefits of yoga – I practise it myself,” he says. “But, like anything, it can cause injury. We can’t put it on a pedestal.
“I don’t want to denounce yoga, after all it’s been going for thousands of years. But you have to understand yourself.”
The amount of yoga that teachers do, and the fact that they often rarely do any other form of exercise, might have something to do with why so many are experiencing health problems.
“The yoga teachers I’m seeing are young – 40, 42.
“If they come limping and can’t walk more than 10m [33ft], say, there’s no amount of physio that can help them. If it’s two years in, even the best physio can’t do anything.
In short, if you’re becoming a yoga instructor, you should get assessed by a professional before taking on a massive teaching load.
They’ll tell you how to take care of your body. Throw in some cardio and fitness training to mix things up, too.
If you’re a casual yogi, spare a thought for your yoga instructor next time you’re curating one of those Instagram posts involving the warrior pose in various natural settings.
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