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Richard Freeman on yoga injuries and shoulder stands

March 22, 2012

Richard Freeman says he knows of no one who has had a stroke from doing yoga, in answer to a question about the now infamous New York Times article on how yoga can hurt you.

His answer is the latest of his “Ask the Expert” pieces. Here’s the link, and here’s a quick excerpt:

In relation to the article, which mentions the danger of extreme motions of the neck, there is the possibility of neck injury in postures like the plough pose (halasana) if they are not done with proper respect to the mechanics of the shoulders, neck and head. This is particularly the case if the posture is held for a long time and/or if the practitioner ignores feelings of discomfort or pain from their own body.

The danger of practicing these kinds of postures has long been known by serious practitioner. A more common injury is over stretching of certain ligaments in the back of the cervical spine which can cause a distortion and a loss of the cervical curve. This, in turn, can eventually cause a pinching of nerve roots and/or the arteries and veins of the neck.

I certainly wish I could remember when / how I hurt my neck. I think it was an unfamilar pillow during the Confluence, perhaps combined with an unusually vigorous set of practices. But it wasn’t practice-stopping until this week, so I’m just not sure.

Moral of all this: Be aware. I don’t think I was. I’m hoping the scheduled body work for tomorrow night pays off.

Posted by Steve

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 22, 2012 5:54 am

    Mel Robin in his “A Physiological Handbook for Teachers of Yogasana” devotes a section to yoga injuries. I recommend his most brilliant book to everyone. Have you thought about seeing a doctor? A neck injury is nothing to brush off lightly. Best

    • March 22, 2012 8:52 pm

      We have a trusted body worker coming in tonight. It sure seems to be in a muscle. If that doesn’t fix things, it’s on to our doc, who specializes in this stuff (whatever that makes her).

      It is getting better…



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