Improper yoga can give you pain in neck

| TNN | 

 From describing yoga as a “potent peace weapon” to extolling its health benefits, the Modi government may be going the extra mile to promote the practice, but the drive, in the absence of a central regulation, is pushing scores to doctors’ clinics with sore backs, overworked muscles, and torn ligaments.
But physiotherapists, orthopaedic doctors and practitioners of Indian medicine say while there are a handful of ‘qualified’ yoga instructors in the city, the number of those holding classes with little or no training in the ancient discipline is on the rise. Some have incorporated new elements to come up with derivatives like ‘Power Yoga’, ‘Pilates Yoga’ and ‘Aerobic Yoga’ to make it more appealing to the masses.

The result: “Out of ten people who attend yoga classes, at least one has an injury or has an aggravated pre-existing condition,” said Deepak Mudaliar, a Chennai-based fitness consultant and physiotherapist. He said, after recovery he usually refers his clients to a non-profit yoga ‘mandiram’ that is recognised by Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) – an autonomous institute established by the department of AYUSH, ministry of health and family welfare. It acts as the nodal agency for the development and promotion of yoga in the country.

As the institute limits itself to promotion and recognition, several yoga studios with no certification have cropped up in the city. “Many of them are capitalising on the fad to stay fit,” said 41-year-old yoga practitioner Lara Abisheikh, who was introduced to the discipline at the age of 14. Unlike other fitness regimes, yoga calls for deeper study, knowledge and training since it is considered a form of therapy, he said. In the traditional form, people are screened and their medical history taken into account. “The effects of yoga are usually progressive. But people look for quick results. As a result, instructors often overwork them,” he explained, adding that it could be detrimental. Many of these sessions are held in groups, with instructors tending to overlook those who may need medical help.

Doctors say most yoga-related injuries are musculoskeletal, bone and joint issues. “Abnormal stretches can at times be fatal or lead to paralysis,” said geriatric physician Dr V S Natarajan. He said people who have knee and back injuries, cervical and lumbar spondylitis and elderly people should be careful while choosing a trainer.


Though 751 of the 2,000 odd registered yoga and naturopathy practitioners are in Tamil Nadu, yet the state does not have a monitoring authority to check the mushrooming of yoga studios or to verify the backgrounds of instructors. “There is little difference between a teacher who has completed a diploma in yoga, even if it’s from an institute recognised by MDNIY, and someone who has decided to teach after a week’s training…both are quacks as they aren’t registered. But, then, how do we define a quack when there is no central law?” asked Dr B Muthukumar, member central council of Indian medicine.


G Rajasekaran, registrar Tamil Nadu Board of Indian medicine, said although the board was aware of the spike in yoga studios led by poorly qualified instructors, officials’ hands are tied. “Our mandate is only to monitor only those have done the course,” he said.