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Customer Review

48 of 70 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Based on false premise, February 18, 2012
This review is from: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards (Hardcover)
This book is based on a false premise.

It is perhaps helpful ... but is unnecessarily one-sided

'One cold, lazy winter day, I wrapped myself in a blanket and settled
into an afternoon of cable TV and hot tea. I felt tired but completely
comfortable as I reached for the remote, when suddenly there was a hot
flash of pain shooting through my lower back. The pain was so sharp I
felt as though I couldn't catch my breath, let alone move. After
several minutes, I managed to gently rock myself up into a seated
position but couldn't straighten up beyond halfway. I had to shuffle
my way to the bathroom, bent over, to look for Ben-Gay. I felt like I
was about 100 years old, and I couldn't stop whimpering. What was
going on? This had never happened to me before. I was in good
condition. I went to the gym six days a week. I was a personal
trainer. I had never experience any kind of injury before and
certainly hadn't ever had the slightest twinge in any part of my back'.

Anyone, such as me, who has had lower back pain will sympathize. But
there are two problems here. Firstly,
this was written by Rita Trieger, author of "Yoga Heals Your Back: 10-minute
routines that end back and neck pain". Secondly, she didn't hurt
her back doing yoga.
Yoga Heals Your Back: 10-Minute Routines that End Back and Neck Pain

William Broad writes:
'In 2007, I experienced my own "serious complication" while studying
with Robin in Pennsylvania. It happened as I did the Extended Side
Angle pose, or Utthita Parsvakonasana. That was the posture that
Krishnamacharya praised as a cure for many diseases. I was coming out
of the pose and chatting with my partner -- instead of paying
attention to what I was doing -- when my back gave way. Blinding pain forced me to ignore everything but the explosion of
fire. It was excruciating. My legs failed and the room vanished in
tears. My body slammed into a wall. Recovery took weeks. But the humbling experience gave me a deeper
appreciation for yoga safety'.

The major issue I have with the author here is that there is no
evidence that his back pain was directly caused by yoga. I bought this
book because I've been in Mel Robin and Amy Weintraub's classes. I
liked them both.

But I am puzzled. Broad hurts his back in
Robin's class. But because Robin has a scientific approach he keeps
faith with Robin and never once considers that Robin might
actually have hurt him. This is
clearly biassed because he goes on to suggest that when other students
are hurt in yoga classes it is because those teachers are unskilled or
unqualified ... yet he admits he hurt himself in Robin's class. This is a bit of a
crock. Robin's scientific approach might well make him a safe teacher,
but without studying how many injuries might have occurred in
Robin's classes compared to how many occurred in skilled but non-scientific
hands, non-skilled but scientific hands, and non-skilled and
non-scientific hands, Broad's conclusions are a big stretch. The whole
book is filled with problems like this.

I live in the Bay Area. My wife showed me a newsletter from
Mark Stephens who gave a link to a video review of this book by his
teacher Kofi Busia, who pointed out another problem I have.

There's a new big sex scandal with John Friend, founder of Anusara
yoga. Broad mentions others and spends a lot of time talking about
yoga and sex.
But there's no balance. If he wants to be scientific, then he should
talk about other yogis like Dharma Mittra or BKS Iyengar or Indra Devi who are pretty famous for their chaste

Another problem is Broad doesn't discuss yoga and pain management. He only discusses management of psychological
disease like depression. But Amy Weintraub is hot on how psychological pain has
physical effects. She uses yoga to help with these. Broad never touches this. In fact he never even considers the
links between mind and body. Pain management is the other side of the sex and
pleasure coin. He talks about men and women who can give
themselves pleasure mentally, but never discusses their ability to
offset pain. If you can do one, then can you do the other? I personally learned the value of yoga
in helping me handle my back ache and the depression it caused and
also the actual sensation of pain. The science behind non-medicated
pain management is big these days
and not talking about it in this book is a big mistake.

In fact the biggest mistake is dividing pain into psychological and
physical in the first place. His chapter on psychological pain says nothing about
Amy's work on the physical management of depression, and his chapter
on injury says nothing about strategies for managing pain. Hard to see how this is the science
of yoga when yoga's biggest claim is not examined. I would
have rated this a 2, but since Broad writes on science I think he should have written with more understanding of the scientific process. He should have known to cover these kinds of things. Yoga is not all roses: true. It is still waiting for a scientific appraisal.

(This is my first-ever Amazon review).
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 16, 2012 6:17:12 AM PDT
Actually, not only is Broad unable to prove that yoga hurt his back, but also he had a PRE-EXISTING back condition which caused him to seek yoga in the first place! He notes in the book that he was practicing yoga because it seemed to be the ONLY thing that was helping his back. The fact that he re-injured it during yoga could have been entirely coincidental & circumstantial (which a REAL scientist would know).

Posted on Feb 28, 2013 6:49:37 AM PST
"Another problem is Broad doesn't discuss yoga and pain management. He only discusses management of psychological
disease like depression."

Are you sure you actually read this book? Because I'm only about half-way through and about half of one chapter was all about Loren Fishman and how he is using yoga for pain management and to teach the body to heal injuries as an alternate to surgery.

Posted on Jan 11, 2015 1:58:41 AM PST
For me the answer is right there in his own words "I was chatting and not paying attention".
At the end of the day pwople are responsible for themselves, its neither the teacher's or the yoga's fault if he was not paying attention. And btw, attention is an integral part of yoga, so what he was doing was gymnastics, not triangle pose.
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