Can Yoga Asanas Harm Your Health?

Yoga as a way to keep the body in good physical shape for a long time has occupied its place in the modern fitness industry. But is it useful? How can we avoid hidden dangers when doing the next asana?


Many people still remember from the school curriculum that the first thing an embryo develops in the womb is the nervous system. Otherwise, how will the performance of various organs be managed? The main things that protect the nervous system are the bones of the skull and the spine. We are used to protecting the head, but we can do various exercises loading the spine on a yoga mat.

The position of an inverted triangle, the position of a scorpion, the back twisting position… They all look so beautiful in the pictures! There is really something to brag about in Instagram, if you master these asanas. The only bad thing is that health problems are left behind the scenes.

It is believed that twisting asanas make the spine rotate around its axis, which is facilitated by the person’s height extension. First, we pull our height and then twist. What’s really going on? The spine is bent in the scoliotic manner, following the contours of letter S. Let us see why. For this purpose, we will have to deal with mechanics and biomechanics.

When an object or a joint has a single point of attachment, it can rotate around its axis, such as a hand. Two attachment points make the range of movements considerably limited: back and forth. For example, imagine a door with two hinges. It is unlikely that you will succeed in rotating it around its axis. With three attachment points or more, the subject or joint is scarcely mobile.

One vertebra has six attachment points: two coupling outgrowths above and below the vertebral body that is firmly adherent to the intervertebral discs at the top and bottom. And if you look at thoracic spine, you will also take into account the ribs attached to the edges of two vertebrae, binding them. Thus, rational nature has provided the maximum protection of vital human organs, and thoracic spine is the least mobile one.

What does the regular practice of twisting lead to? It causes “loosening” of the structure and subsequent displacement or subluxation of the vertebrae. This is the most obvious result that an X-ray or MRI will show. Other problems are less obvious: few people would associate bad knees with herniation in the lumbar spine or gastric ulcer with subluxation in the thoracic spine. However, the connection is more than obvious.

Getting displaced, vertebra clamps the spinal nerves, which run from the spinal cord through the intervertebral foramen to a particular organ. The brain gets a distorted signal from that organ or ceases to receive any signals, so it cannot fix anything. As a result, a disease emerges. Besides, who would associate it with “productive” yoga classes?

But all this does not mean that it’s time to quit yoga exercises on the mat. You just need a reasonable approach to everything and proper discrimination, or Viveka, as yoga suggests. No harm is caused by the positions in which the shoulders and the pelvis are coplanar with each other. And there are plenty of them! You need to remember that the main purpose of asanas is pumping blood and lymph, and even a simple mountain position with all muscles strained performs this function.

Do not be afraid to ask questions to your instructor. Perform a certain asana only if his/her answers are backed by real knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics. For example, why should you curl up in an inverted triangle? Can you stretch the side muscles? Does the twisted back position have a good effect on kidneys? The answer can be as follows: what is more important to you: a slim waist, or perhaps healthy kidneys (who will check?), or the normally working nervous system and the body in general?

The waist line can be influenced in another way: a plank position, a boat position and Nauli (a belly wave) can help you. But this will be spoken about in the next article.

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