Yoga is often touted as a “feel good” type of exercise that virtually anybody at any level of fitness can do. It’s low-impact, so it isn’t likely to stress your knees. It isn’t aerobic, so it doesn’t require people to have a strong heart or lungs. It doesn’t take any machinery to do, so you don’t have to worry about falling off (like you might a treadmill or stair machine).
However, none of that means yoga is actually safe. In fact, injuries related to yoga are increasing. The number of yoga-related hospital visits in 2014, for example, was about twice that of the number seen in 2001. However, among those aged 65 and over, injures were eight times more common!
What’s behind the rise in injuries? Part of it is the popularity of the exercise form. However, a great deal is related to the fact that it is advertised as something that anyone can do — and it isn’t. Not everyone with health problems, particularly those who have been sedentary for a long time, can just dive into yoga at 65 years of age.
In addition, the people instructing yoga classes at gyms and studios aren’t necessarily the most well-prepared. While it takes 200 hours of study to be a certified yoga instructor, that’s not really very much when you consider the amount of physical manipulation these instructors are directing people to do. They don’t have the knowledge to recognize when someone should modify a pose or simply not attempt something.
People are also being led into advanced classes before they’re ready to be there. Not every studio or gym is really concerned with the health of its members. If it’s a choice between letting a class go half-filled and letting people sign up before they’re ready, the studios and gyms may just put a liability waiver in front of their members to sign and shrug off the risks.
What can you do if your seriously injured while doing yoga? It depends a lot on things like those liability waivers. Did you sign one? If so, a personal injury attorney can review it with you to see if it is enforceable. If a form is unreasonably broad or you were misled about something important, the waiver might not be valid.
Source: Yoga Journal, “Study Finds Yoga Injuries Are on the Rise (Plus, 4 Ways to Avoid Them),” Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman, accessed March 30, 2018