New book: Does yoga make you fat?

The hits keep coming from the New York Times.

Along with asking the question “Om or not“, the Times today has a column by Maureen Dowd that focuses on a new book by a Times science writer. It’s called “The Science of Yoga: The Myths and the Rewards,” by William Broad.

Here is a bit from Dowd’s piece:

But as I read on, I began to feel a little stressed out.

Does yoga make you fat?

“For decades, teachers of yoga have hailed the discipline as a great way to shed pounds,” Broad writes. “But it turns out that yoga works so well at reducing the body’s metabolic rate that — all things being equal — people who take up the practice will burn fewer calories, prompting them to gain weight and deposit new layers of fat. And for better or worse, scientists have found that the individuals most skilled at lowering their metabolisms are women.”

Broad follows that up with another of yoga’s “dirty little secrets,” writing: “Yoga has produced waves of injuries. Take strokes, which arise when clogged vessels divert blood from the brain. Doctors have found that certain poses can result in brain damage that turns practitioners into cripples with drooping eyelids and flailing limbs.”

Now I was very tense. The next paragraph made me coil tighter.

“Darker still, some authorities warn of madness,” Broad advises. “As Carl Jung put it, advanced yoga can ‘let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed.’ ”

Guruji, I believe, talked about too much Pranayama too soon doing that. I’m not sure I’ve heard of the poses causing it — although I’ve definitely had waves of emotion during practice. Possibly not floods, though.

I’ll be interested to see how Broad’s book is received, both by the yoga community and the mainstream. It could add a valuable, authoritative voice to the discussion about yoga’s benefits.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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