Is Yoga Dangerous For Women?


By YJ Editor  |  

The New York Times‘ senior science writer William Broad has garnered a reputation over the last two years as the nation’s formal yoga critic. In January 2012, he came out with the article “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” which was an excerpt from his then-forthcoming book, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards. The article offered the point of view that yoga can highly dangerous, even deadly, and elicited letters of complaint from many practitioners and prominent yoga educators, and led to Yoga Journal LIVE panel discussion about yoga and the risk of injury. Since then, Broad has written additional articles about the dangers of yoga, including, “The Perils of Yoga for Men,” and “Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here.” His critiques get mixed reviews by the national yoga community, but one thing is for sure: They get a lot of attention.

So, when Broad’s latest indictment of yoga, “Women’s Flexibility Is a Liability (in Yoga),” came out this past weekend, it was no surprise that folks far and wide responded to it. In his article, Broad says that women have a high incidence of hip injury as a result of practicing yoga. He received the statistics to inform his theory from doctors who reported that they were seeing a large number of middle-aged female patients with hip pain, stating that they also practiced yoga. In some cases, the article says, the women needed hip replacements. (Although it’s not entirely clear if they needed the hip replacements because of the yoga, or if they also just happened to be yoga practitioners—a logical inconsistency that some of Broad’s detractors have cited.) The article posits that women are at larger risk for these types of injuries because they are more naturally flexible. Broad does state that if yoga is done gently, it can probably help with conditions like arthritis.

Almost immediately, commentaries popped up online to speak to Broad’s new article, including blogs by Yin Yoga teacher Paul Grilley, Corewalking creator Jonathan FitzGordon, and Confluence Countdown writer Steven Cahn. Also, Elephant Journal posted an opinion piece about why we should all stop writing commentaries about Broad’s articles. The responses do mention relevant points that Broad makes, but also often criticize him on his soft science and his scare tactics.

Ladies, have you suffered any hip problems stemming from your yoga practice?