SOMERS, N.Y. – Dr. Scott Levin of Somers Orthopaedic Surgery says more than 20 million Americans have practiced yoga to increase flexibility, reduce stress and improve conditions ranging from neck pain to asthma.
Recent controversy about the possible harms of yoga led Dr. Levin to compose a list of Yoga do’s and don’ts.
“Many injuries can be avoided by avoiding the more extreme poses,” says Dr. Levin. “But any pose can be harmful if incorrectly performed.” Here is some of his advice:
- Kripalu, Viniyoga and Integral are the more gentle types of yoga, whereas Ashtanga, Bikram and Power Yoga are inappropriate for beginners or inflexible people. Visit and observe several classes to decide what’s right for you.
- Know your limits and don’t push yourself beyond what you can do. If a move doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Pain is the signal to stop. Focus on your own progress and don’t try to keep up with the class.
- Wear comfortable clothing, not too loose or too tight. Bare feet are best, but yoga socks with toe separations and sticky soles are suitable.
- Cold muscles injure more easily. Warm up for 10 minutes with easy movements to increase blood circulation, lubricate joints and get your body to begin stretching. Start with the simplest poses and progress to the more difficult.
- Let your instructor know about any injury or condition that might be aggravated by the session. The instructor may be able to modify poses to reduce the risk of injury or may suggest that you skip the pose or the session.
"Each yoga enthusiast is responsible for personal safety and must listen to his or her own body and not push beyond the limits,” Levin concludes. “Practiced correctly, yoga promotes general fitness and significant benefits and well-being.
Scott Levin, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with a B.A. from Penn State, an M.D. from Temple University and a fellowship in sports medicine from Lenox Hill Hospital.
While at Lenox Hill, he worked with players from the New York Jets and the New York Islanders and sports teams from Hunter College and Hofstra University.