Six Reasons to Ignore The New York Times’ Yoga Article. ~ Sarah Miller

Via Valerie Carruthers
on Jan 13, 2012
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It’s been a week since “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” appeared in the NY Times and the rants, ruminations and revelations are still pouring onto the virtual pages of elephant. My personal response—“How to Prevent (or Minimize) Yoga Injuries”—will appear shortly. Meanwhile, I thought you’d enjoy seeing a more irreverent take on the subject from novelist Sarah Miller that crossed my Facebook feed. A day without LYAO (laughing your asana off) can wreck your spirit. Enjoy!

This article originally appeared Jan. 11, 2012, on, a New York City-based web site devoted to culture and politics. Thanks, awl and Sarah Miller for injecting a healthy dose of comic relief into the mix!

That New York Times Magazine‘s article on the dangers of yoga has made a lot of people mad. It didn’t really make me mad—I do too much yoga to get mad, though I do still sniff disdainfully—but I did want to address why many of the arguments in it are totally lame.

1. The Times‘ health coverage often gives way to local news-flavored hysteria. You can’t expect the Sort of People Who Tend to Read The Times to freak out about Amber Alerts and Child Molesters. The readership simply isn’t concerned with anything that has no direct effect on them, unless that thing is cool (design), epic in scale (Nicholas Kristof) or risible (Tom Friedman). About the only thing that will get upper-middle-class coast dwellers into a frenzy is the idea—the word ‘fact’ is so black and white, n’est-ce pas?—that Some Day They Are Going To Fucking Die. Like to exercise a lot? That might MAKE YOU DIE. Do you just like to walk leisurely? Is that what you enjoy? Too bad for you, because if you don’t get your heart rate to 96 percent capacity, fourteen minutes a day, eight times in a 15-day cycle, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. Guess what else? If you don’t have hot sex enough with someone who also loves you and pays your bills and who has the same values as you (good luck with that one!), your brain will stop secreting a certain hormone and you WILL DIE. If you do not make this beet green pasta dish like Mark Bittman made and get this special trace mineral found in beet greens that’s the only thing that feeds your liver oxygen, YOU ARE ALSO GOING TO DIE. This yoga article—actually, an excerpt from a book by Times reporter William J. Broad—is in this tradition. It finds subjects with genuine, perfectly reasonable things to say and a few suspect anecdotes and by the time a little Science (said in Thomas Dolby voice) is thrown in (some of this science is from 1972!) everyone has run away screaming at the top of their lungs: “Yoga, noooo! I’d be better off smoking crack and turning tricks outside Benito’s.”

2. Yes, you can get injured doing yoga…for the rest, click over to

Sarah Miller is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl, which are for teens but adults can read on the beach. She lives in Nevada City, CA.




About Valerie Carruthers

Valerie is a maverick yogini who loves teaching and practicing Yoga and meditation as well as writing for magazines and the Web, not always in the same order or on the same day. She first practiced Yoga in New York City back when there were mainly “Hatha” classes and no soundtracks. When performing an asana had absolutely nothing to do with toning one’s ass. Based in east central Florida, she has taught classes to diverse populations for the past decade. Valerie is currently focusing on teaching workshops that combine Yoga and art-making for all levels. When wearing her freelancer’s hat, Valerie writes about a) how to devolve from the world and evolve spiritually and b) whatever fascinates her about where the social face of Yoga in its rapidly shifting manifestations merges into the cosmic face of Yoga in all its blazing glory.


19 Responses to “Six Reasons to Ignore The New York Times’ Yoga Article. ~ Sarah Miller”

  1. […] original post here: Six Reasons to Ignore 'The New York Times' Article. | elephant journal Tags: bills, brain, certain-hormone, good-luck, same-values, sex-enough, will-stop, […]

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Ah I wish I could express how much I love this, but I fear I might expire with the effort. Very effing well said, and very Laugh Out Loud funny.
    Thank you Sarah Miller and Valerie!

  3. Jen says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this – amazing how this article has spread like wildfire and is now on TV news, too. Your comments are freakin' fabulous and spot on.

  4. Much ado about very little :)) Well summed up….

  5. kimisgoa says:

    Spot on! Enough said.

  6. freehugyoga says:

    Thanks Sarah and Valerie! I ignored the article and hysteria around for all this time, my only comment was " Much a do about nothing". However this article I ADORE. Thanks Both of You:):):)

  7. ValCarruthers says:

    Thanks, Ben. Made me laugh all over again just reading your comment.

  8. ValCarruthers says:

    Gratitude, Jen. Amazing what a little humor can do.

  9. ValCarruthers says:

    The NYT piece is a black hole that's been swallowing most of the Yogaverse. It would be nice to hang out in Lotus, Omming the day away. But sometimes we gotta get off our asana.

  10. ValCarruthers says:

    Thanks, Misa. See my response to Braja, above. This NY Times episode may go down in Yoga history for turning editorial rebuttal into the ninth limb.

  11. begentlewithyoga says:

    I just had my vertebrae fused in the US. I was a regular yoga student. My neurosurgeon told me the explosion of yoga practice in the west has exponentially increased his clientele. I have taken classes with a lot of different yoga teachers, some of them very famous and well respected in the yoga community, who pushed students past their limit. I am now only doing gentle yoga (despite my neurosurgeon advice against it) while struggling not to say something when I see that the teachers are not adjusting students in bad poses that my hurt them.

  12. Heather says:

    Yoga helps you get in touch with your living and dying cycle. Some people know that consciously. Other people seek it out justifying it in a different way because the rawness of it is not familiar to them. Why should anyone judge a person who is doing there best to get in touch with this truth?

  13. I'm just loving how you knocked the "Why the Equinox Yoga Video Pissed Me Off" article off the top of the charts. YAY! I think it's the title that pushed that one up there, but the guts of this one is the winner 🙂

  14. I actually love the chaos, to be honest. Why? Because it blows it all outta the water. Like I said to Dr. Timothy McCall at Yoga Journal, "how can you have resolution without conflict?!" 🙂

  15. ValCarruthers says:

    Merci, Braja. This one came along at the right time to lighten things up and bust some ego-chops in the process. Who knew it would top the chart?

    Btw, congrats on the spiffy #s your "5 Things" piece has been getting.


  16. ValCarruthers says:

    Got me LMAO again. Sounds like a plan.

  17. Mary Lynn says:

    Yes, and fear mongering has many forms. Practice yoga. Yoga can't hurt you, but you can surely hurt yourself jumping on the bandwagon of fear.

  18. Heather says:

    I wasn't speaking about the damage, actually (I've had several yoga-related injuries, including almost breaking my neck when a "teacher "assisted me" into a handstand that went wrong). I was talking about why people do yoga. I went to yoga as a 20-year-old athlete. I was told it would help my tight hamstrings. And it did, over time. It took me 15 years to begin to understand the living-dying aspect. But in that first class (and when I almost broke my next, etc.) was the beginning of that process (the living-dying thing, that is). So I agree with you on the injuries (though mine have all taught me something I needed to understand) and disagree about the living-dying point you make. And I am aware that the asana is only ONE part of the eightfold process actually.