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Injuries and Yin

 
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Un-flexy wexy



Joined: 01 Mar 2015
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 3:18 am    Post subject: Injuries and Yin Reply with quote

I am a Yin teacher with about 18 months experience. A little background, I have done a general 200 hr training, have my RYT and have done an additional 100 hours toward a Yoga Therapy cert. My mentor and the owner of the studio where I teach has recently started telling me that Yin is unsafe and really shouldn't be taught. Rather than giving me specific examples and research, she has told me I need to be doing my research. I have done tons of research ( Paul grilley, Sarah Powers, Bernie, Ulrica Norberg, Biff Mithoefer). I watch this forum on a regular basis and read the newsletters and research. I'm baffled as to what I am missing. She has recently finished Leslie Kaminoffs anatomy training and seems to be reluctant to share. Is there brand new information that I need? I can say that my practice is informed by my very inflexible body(years of running and daily doses of work related stress) and I am unable know the hyper-mobility side of this. Any insight or suggestions will be gratefully received.
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1110
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:27 am    Post subject: ??? Reply with quote

I am not sure how to advise you on this one: anyone can say "Oh - don't do X, it is dangerous!" but to refuse to say why X is dangerous is just either lazy or ignorant. If this person is your mentor as you say, you deserve more than a "figure it out for yourself!"

We can all find instances where any practice could be dangerous. Yoga in general has proven dangerous for some people: just read The Science of Yoga by William Broad to get a list of people who have hurt themselves doing yoga. This does not mean no one should ever do yoga. To say that Yin Yoga is dangerous is not helpful. Life is dangerous. Crossing roads is dangerous. Eating in a restaurant can be dangerous. What are the odds, though, and dangerous for whom and how?

Without any specifics to go on, don't bother going on.
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Un-flexy wexy



Joined: 01 Mar 2015
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bernie,
Thank you for your reply. It has verified my gut reaction. I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I appreciate this sight and the information you provide. It has been a great help on my journey.
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Lisa



Joined: 08 Oct 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Louisiana

PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate this post, as I am a new Yin Yoga teacher. My first and foremost consideration is making sure all of my students are safe. I've never personally experienced any negative effects whatsoever from my Yin Yoga practices , nor have my students ( to date ). I also practice more aggressive Yang styles of Yoga at least 3 times a week, and the potential for injury in those sessions is much greater ( for me ) than in Yin. As Bernie so accurately stated.... LIFE can be dangerous (if we are reckless.) Does that mean we don't live our lives?

Maybe it's time for a new mentor?

Namaste everyone!
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Un-flexy wexy



Joined: 01 Mar 2015
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Lisa,

Time to get out of my comfort zone and move on. My heart has known this for a while...it's just taking my mind a little while to follow.

Namaste
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dave



Joined: 28 Dec 2013
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read this topic earlier and let it be for awhile. Now I come back and still have the same reaction. Yin is one of the kindest and gentlest ways we can treat our-self. If someone is able to pass that along to others that is the same.

I practice Ashtanga and a small amount of Yin or gentle type as a nice compliment to my practice. Some of the stuff in Ashtanga is, well, kind of nuts. Jumping into headstand? I guess people might get hurt once in awhile. The most that has ever happened to me is a few minor bumps and bruises. I have seen people that have practiced this for decades and their age is getting up. I hope I am in half that good of shape when I am that age. As Lisa wrote the chances of injury in other types of practices is much higher than Yin.

No matter what type of yoga it is important to learn the poses and the practice very well so we are doing good to ourselves / others, not harm (Ahimsa).

You might find a little guidance from the following organization. It seems very sensible to me.

International Yoga Alliance For Ethics
http://www.internationalyogaallianceforethics.com/code-of-ethics/

1.01 Scope of Practice
2.01 Avoiding Harm (Ahimsa)
2.09 Cooperation with Other Professionals
3.03 Group Classes
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Un-flexy wexy



Joined: 01 Mar 2015
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for this Dave. I will definitely read your suggested sections. I also love this practice and have had only good results from it. It is such a relief from the stress and busyness on our lives.

The thing that I am finding is that I'm having to defend the practice on a regular basis and it is starting to wear on me. I am currently practicing along with my husband and have a workshop planned for later this year. I am well read and believe that I understand the practice and it's benefits well, but I am always open to new information.

One area a need to more fully explore is teaching this to students with hyper mobility. If anyone has good suggestions/ resources about this I would appreciate them.

The journey continues!
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1110
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:08 am    Post subject: hyperflexibility Reply with quote

Have you read the recent post on hyperextension?
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d



Joined: 01 Jul 2015
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:53 am    Post subject: Re: ??? Reply with quote

Bernie wrote:
I am not sure how to advise you on this one: anyone can say "Oh - don't do X, it is dangerous!" but to refuse to say why X is dangerous is just either lazy or ignorant. If this person is your mentor as you say, you deserve more than a "figure it out for yourself!"

We can all find instances where any practice could be dangerous. Yoga in general has proven dangerous for some people: just read The Science of Yoga by William Broad to get a list of people who have hurt themselves doing yoga. This does not mean no one should ever do yoga. To say that Yin Yoga is dangerous is not helpful. Life is dangerous. Crossing roads is dangerous. Eating in a restaurant can be dangerous. What are the odds, though, and dangerous for whom and how?

Without any specifics to go on, don't bother going on.


I just took a weekend yin yoga teacher training and I mentioned one can get hurt in yin yoga and the teacher had the same response: you can hurt yourself with anything. I wasn't quick enough to come up with a response to her inane comment.

Yes, you can hurt yourself living. However, yin yoga is optional. that's like comparing apples and oranges.

I've managed to hurt myself just starting with yin yoga, it's how I found this out. The fact is I've been in athletics all my life and never hurt myself, except for a rare twisted ankle. To discover I could hurt myself -- and SERIOUSLY AND PERMANENTLY -- with yin yoga was absolutely shocking, actually.

I think it is the responsibility of every teacher to be very clear and explicit on this point to make sure people don't get hurt.
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1110
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2015 6:39 am    Post subject: Injury caused by Yin Yoga Reply with quote

Dear "d"

I am sorry to hear that you suffered an injury in your yoga class. Of course you are right, people can get hurt doing yoga. I cited the research above by William Broad that attests to that fact. However, you didn't provide any context or background to the nature of your injury. While the injury happened in a yoga class, sometimes the predisposition for an injury is set up long before the student enters the classroom. A serious injury, if it is not caused by a sudden trauma, like a car accident or some other unfortunate incident occurring in a sport, usually has some small warning signals ahead of time: I like to call these "little tweaks." If the little tweaks are ignored, they can become big tweaks and if these are ignored, they blossom into full fledged injuries. Was the injury you suffered completely independent of all the other stresses you have subjected your body to over your years of athletics? I am not saying it was, because you have given no background to your overall health and the specific injury, so I can only ask the question.

It is a common human trait to look at the proximal cause of some event and assign responsibility to that event. There is a saying that it was "the last straw that broke the camel's back." We blame the last straw, the proximal event for the injury, but in reality it was the accumulation of stress over time (all the other straws) that created the predisposition for the injury to occur. This is a well-known problem in medicine, as this graphic below shows. Here you see that over time every stress of tissues reduces that tissue's tolerance to future stress. As the tissue weakens, a last straw effect can occur that damages the tissue (when the two curves cross.) But, it was not the last event that was the problem: it was the accumulation over time of stress that left the tissues weak that lead to the injury.



This last straw effect syndrome is described by Stuart McGill in his book called Low Back Disorders. McGill is sometimes called as an expert witness for cases where a Workers' Compensation Board denies coverage to an employee. For example: the employee works all day on a production line, lifting a heavy load off a conveyer belt, twisting his spine and placing the load on a skid. This repetitive movement decreases the tolerance of the back tissue. One day the worker, while at home, bends over to pick up his socks and "throws his back out." He files a WCB claim, but is turned down because the injury occurred at home, not at work. McGill has to educate the court that the injury was not caused by the proximal event of picking up socks, but by the long term stress on tissues, which were not allowed sufficient time to recover or heal.

Yoga studio owners face a similar problem some times: a student hurts their knee or hip while doing a posture, and then sues the teacher or the studio blaming them for her injury. The student fails to reveal anything of her prior physical condition or activities, such as having just run a marathon, or did mountain climbing, or slipped at home and strained her joint the day before. The student blames the proximal event for the injury and not the chronic stresses she had be doing to herself over time. Again, I am not saying that this is your situation, as you gave no background to your injury. But, before blaming Yin Yoga or blaming the teacher, we do have to look at the bigger picture of the history of your physical activities, health and little tweaks you have had before attending that class.

You also state very boldly that "I think it is the responsibility of every teacher to be very clear and explicit on this point to make sure people don't get hurt." Every teacher has an intention to keep her student's safe, but it is a step too far to say that every teacher has the responsibility to ensure that people don't get hurt. As a parent, I could never guarantee that my children never got hurt, but what I could do was try to teach them how to look out for themselves. I would agree that teachers should try to teach their students to look out for themselves, but no teacher can guarantee that their students won't get hurt. The student has to take ultimate responsibility for her practice and her body.

Let me explain that last point and put it in some context. I wrote an article entitled Are Yoga Teachers Making Us Fragile? in which I said the following:

    The author and geneticist Bruce Lipton once asked an important question: "What's the difference between a doctor and an airplane pilot?" Before delivering the punch line he pointed out that a pilot, by law, has to go through a large checklist of items before he can begin to taxi his plane away from the airport terminal. He always does this. Your doctor likewise is expected to go over a standard list of questions and procedures when you come to see her, but since she has only about 10 minutes allocated to your visit, she rarely does this. What's the real difference between the doctor and the pilot? The pilot is on the plane with you. This bears repeating: The pilot is on the plane with you!

    Lipton's comment is not meant to disparage doctors, but none of them are on the plane with you. This also applies to dentists, accountants, lawyers, best friends, family and yoga teachers. You may be surrounded by bright, educated and well-intentioned people, but you are the one flying your plane. Experts can be part of your advisory team, a council of coaches, but you have to take final responsibility for your life, for your health, for your yoga practice.

    Don't take anything a yoga teacher tells you as gospel: check it out. The advice is well intentioned, but you are flying your plane. If the advice or directions do not work for you, don't follow it. You are unique. Your teacher will never know you as well as you will know yourself. Her advice is guidance, but it is not a commandment from God. Beware of dogma no matter which expert is delivering it to you. How to know if the advice doesn't work for you? Consider it, try it, but pay attention: pain is often a great signal that something isn't right. If it is not right for you, ask for options.


I believe that the role of a good teacher is to help the student recognize the warning signs, the danger signals, the little tweaks before they become big tweaks. Certainly, a bad teacher could give directions that are extremely dangerous for many students, but it is up to the student to decide whether they will do what any teacher says. You are flying the plane: if you decide to give up control of the plane, remember that the person you are putting in charge of your life is not on the plane with you! I would be very sure that I can trust that person before I took my hands off the steering wheel. You do not need to have blind trust in your yoga teacher, your lawyer or your doctor. You are allowed to test out what they are recommended before complying with their instructions. You don't have to be mean or nasty about it, but as the Buddha once said, "Put no head above your own."

I hope your experience doesn't put you off Yin Yoga forever. I would encourage to look at the whole story and work out for yourself what caused your injury. Perhaps it was the yoga, but maybe it was only one particular posture or one particular approach to that one pose that was problematic for you. Assigning blame to the teacher or the practice of Yin Yoga may be an easy thing to do, but the result may be that you never do Yin Yoga ever again, and that would deny you many of the benefits this practice has to offer. If you re-evaluate the whole story of your injury, both the proximal and distal causes, you may come to some deeper understanding of the cause, and the lessons you learn may help you live your life more skillfully in the future.

Cheers
Bernie
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dave



Joined: 28 Dec 2013
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I happened to find a newspaper story on yoga injuries. A little title and link showed up on my screen, I'm not sure why it was there, I wasn't looking for it. It is from the National Post on yoga injuries
http://news.nationalpost.com/health/yoga-regimens-and-poses-pushed-too-far-can-lead-to-hip-injuries-osteoarthritis-sports-mds

I automatically assumed it would be a very poorly written article. So I wasn't really practicing yoga when I made that assumption. It turns out it is very well written. There are medical sports doctors that practice yoga in there and others. I found it very interesting if anyone else wishes to read. It sounds like many of the injuries in the story come from not truly practicing yoga. As you can see from the title of the story.

I heard a nice saying the other day "The poses have no beginning or end" In the context this meant that there is always an easier version of the poses for any situation. And no matter how advanced a person becomes there is always something more advanced. Since it is impossible to get to the "end" the only option we have is to enjoy where we are at now.


Last edited by dave on Tue Oct 06, 2015 9:21 am; edited 2 times in total
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1110
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points Dave. We can do too much! But the solution is not to do too little. Find the Goldilocks position --- or as the Buddha called it "The Middle Way."
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