What Are the Disadvantages of Yoga?

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Yoga is considered one of the best ways to improve both physical and mental well-being. The number of people turning to yoga for bettering their lives is growing constantly. There are no restrictions on who can practice yoga, thus both women and men put their trust in the ancient discipline. Yoga is believed to have originated in India around 3000 BCE and was introduced to the western world by Yoga gurus in the late 19th and early 20th century. Since then its popularity is growing exponentially, and the yoga community has expanded to include a rich plethora of races, ethnicities, ages, occupational backgrounds, and more.

While Yoga in Indian traditions is more than just physical exercise, the most common reason why people start practicing yoga is to get in shape – as a way to workout, strengthen their muscles, improve flexibility, and keep their body healthy. 

disadvantages of yoga

Disadvantages of Yoga

Although the benefits of yoga are numerous and unquestionable, there are certain аspects to keep in mind and be careful about, especially if you’re a beginner who is just about to take up his first yoga class

Below are some of the potential risks of practicing yoga explained in detail and ways to approach and handle them. The first and most important, as with everything new we pick up in life, is to get familiar with the specifics and dwell a little deeper in the topic. 

Yoga is a complete science – a philosophy of how to live a proper physical and mental life – and if you’re not doing it in an informative and attentive way you’re not only not going to get the appropriate results, but you might even discourage and hurt yourself along the way. 

Lucky for you, this is what this article aims for – to inform you about the sometimes indiscernible and potentially contradictory outcomes of practicing yoga and equip you with the proper expectations, attitude, and approach.

1. Injury Risks

potential risks of injuries when practicing yoga

In the physical dimensions of Yoga, a vital must is doing an initial warm-up before the practice itself. Similar to other sports activities beginning the actual training program without first preparing the muscles, joints, and tendons, is not only not recommended but even highly dangerous. When in rest, the muscles of the body are tight and some of them might be completely shut off. The purpose of warming up is to activate the stretch reflex – an automatic response of the body when a muscle is lengthened, – or in other words – it tells your muscles to turn on. What happens when a muscle lengthens is that its spindles (receptors located in the muscles) get activated and send a message to the spinal cord and it responds with a message back to the muscle to shorten. This preparation protects your muscles from being pulled too far and tear. 

While this is valid for all types of body workouts, skipping it before a yoga training may have greater and longer-lasting consequences. Most postures require a high level of mobility and flexibility, and performing them poses a considerable challenge for the muscles and joints. Thus, warming the body, waking up the muscles, and stretching the joints is a mandatory step for preventing injuries, fractures, and cramps. 

Certain body parts are typically more weak and vulnerable to strains, such as hamstrings, shoulders, and wrists, hence you need to pay extra attention and spend more time in your pre-training preparation to make sure they’re well warmed and ready for the actual physical tension. 

2. Age Considerations

Age Considerations

Doing Yoga on an everyday-basis has tremendously positive effects on the body and mind – it builds strength, stamina, mobility, flexibility, mental resilience, patience, humility, peace, just to mention a few. This however depends on various factors connected to the physical condition, overall health, previous training experience, and many more. One of the most determinative of them is the age of the practitioner. 

Although yoga is suited to people of all ages, certain styles are more appropriate for the elderly than others, so it is of great importance to choose the right yoga class for yourself

People in their 20s and 30s, who are in a good health, usually aim for building greater strength and stamina, thus high-intensity, fast-paced Vinyasa or Ashtanga training is a good choice for this purpose. Both aim at conditioning muscles of the torso and hips with the help of poses such as high and low lunges, bridge pose, chair pose, and boat pose. 

Later in life, the more challenges we face with balancing between family responsibilities, elderly parents, and increasing job pressure, the more we need to be able to relax and release the accumulated stress. Thus, our 40s are a great time to turn to more restorative practices such as Kundalini and Yin Yoga, which are focused on more relaxing and not so physically intensive poses such as child’s pose, supine spinal twist, and corpse pose.

Turning 50 can feel like a major life milestone both in the physical and the psychological dimension, therefore the main topic of the yoga practice for this age should be finding balance in one’s life. Traditional standing balance poses, such as tree pose, eagle pose, and warrior III, are the right instrument for building a sense of feeling grounded and balanced. 

As we move into our 60s and beyond, health concerns become more and more central for deciding what physical activity to take up and what to avoid to limit injury. With age, bone density decreases, hence, forward folds should be minimized or omitted. Another guideline that is recommended to be followed is to avoid getting your head lower than your heart due to health issues such as low/high blood pressure, glaucoma, and vertigo. Slower and more gentle yoga styles such as Yoga Nidra and Hatha Yoga are much more apposite for this stage of life. 

3. Health-related Threats

Health-related Threats when practicing yoga

The section above examined in-depth the growing challenges we’re facing with every year passing. It is of no surprise that with age we need to be careful in our physical activity and more considerate of our health state. With that in mind, this section aims at expanding the topic by covering other health issues that might arise from practicing yoga or be worsened by it. 

No matter the age, high-intensity classes (such as Bikram yoga which is performed in heated rooms usually up to 41 degrees Celsius, thus creating an environment with increased humidity) might be challenging and even dangerous for pregnant women and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or any sort of cardiovascular problems. Should you have a thing for hot yoga, do keep a bottle of cold water near you to hydrate yourself regularly and make sure to leave the room for a break if you feel dizzy. 

4. Dehydration

Potential Risk of Dehydration when Practicing Yoga

As mentioned above, Bikram Yoga might be hazardous to you due to the high temperatures in the room which increase the risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Sweat is the natural reaction of the body to heat and humidity and its purpose is to cool us down. But under the conditions of an environment where the temperature reaches 41 degrees Celsius and humidity levels of approximately 40%, the sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly as it generates and it only adds on. This increases the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion especially if you haven’t consumed enough fluids before and during the class. Even though extreme accidents of heatstroke are not frequent, other symptoms associated with dehydration and overheating are fairly common – dizziness, nausea, cramping, light-headedness.

The postures performed in this relatively new style of Yoga are borrowed from Hatha, Vinyasa, and generally, high-intensity practices. Therefore it presents a great challenge for the body not only because of the demanding and sweat-inducing environment but also because of the difficulty of the poses. This combined will make your body and heart work harder. 

5. Loss of Confidence or Enthusiasm 

Loss of Confidence or Enthusiasm when Practicing Yoga

Difficult yoga poses are hard to learn and take time and constant practice. Impatience and attempts to execute them prematurely most probably will result in failure and demotivation. For as much as yoga claims to quell the ego, the classes abound with competitiveness. That’s why choosing the right yoga class is so important. If you enroll in a more advanced program compared to your current physical level and abilities, this might result in you feeling discouraged and eventually quitting yoga all in all. Those are the psychological consequences of mismatching your level and the yoga class you attend. Moreover, there might be serious physical repercussions such as fractures and long-lasting injuries. If you practice too aggressively, overexert yourself and listen to your ego, it is easy to push past your usual range of motion and hurt yourself.

To minimize the risk of losing your confidence and enthusiasm, you need to remember to listen to your body and go as far as it allows you to. Leave your competitiveness aside, breathe and try to stay in the moment, and move your body with your breath. Your goal is to be present and in control of your every move. 

It’s not about bending more and going deeper into the given pose, it’s about balance and mindfulness! 

6. Building Passive Strength

Building Passive Strength when Practicing Yoga

Practicing yoga will build your muscles and make you generally stronger. The different postures target different muscle groups, thus you need to make sure you include diverse poses in your practice or attend not a one-and-the-same yoga class. 

This, however, builds mainly your passive rather than active strength. Should you go to other types of workouts such as Fitness or CrossFit, you will be able to feel how differently your body struggles with performing the exercises compared to the yoga poses. For this reason, all yoga instructors do train other forms of sports and workouts in combination with their yoga practice to boost their strength and performance. 

7. Social Pressure 

Social Pressure when Practicing Yoga

Regular yoga class attendants are usually fit, vegans, or some other form of healthy eating propagandists, skinny, etc. Although nothing’s wrong with healthy eating habits and good physical condition, those might be a bit over the top for people who struggle with weight and are not into diets and food regimes. 

Additionally, while yoga advocates for humility and acceptance, competitiveness and comparison with others are widely common in yoga classes. If you’re a beginner, it’s normal to be inhibited and intimidated by more advanced practitioners. Unfortunately, in some cases, this might lead to someone giving up and quitting because of less flexibility or general experience. 

To keep your confidence and motivation high, remember to compare yourself only to your previous performance and not others! 

Conclusion

While Yoga is among the top most popular ways of staying in shape and striving for living a healthier physical and mental life, it poses some risks both for the body and the mind. Most susceptible to the potential disadvantages of Yoga are the beginners who are not well educated about the various specifics of the yoga styles, poses, and all related peculiarities, which come with time and experience of facing and overcoming challenges of all sorts. 

Rules to follow to ensure your positive and enjoyable yoga experience are: 

  1. always warm your body before practice, 
  2. never push yourself beyond your physical limitations, 
  3. try as hard as possible to be present on the mat, 
  4. move your body with control and awareness,
  5. and only compare to yourself. 

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