Stop the Presses!! Headstand Update!
Following up on yesterday's post, I've looked at the study, and it's not a study – it's a 1 page case report about a 52 year old woman who "compulsively practiced yoga for over 30 years," including "daily headstand poses". Her symptoms included weak grip, right Hoffman sign and impaired proprioception. While there is no disputing the finding (just look at that MRI), or making the inference that her daily headstands were a significant contributing factor – I do think it is a rush to judgement to make the claim that because of this one case that headstands ( or by extension yoga) is bad or harmful.
The truth is all physical activity can be potentially harmful, just as sitting around and not doing physical activity is potentially harmful. It's all about how you do it, isn't it? Form follows function.
While I do wonder what "compulsively" practicing yoga actually means, I'm not sure that daily headstands are good or necessary for anyone.
As someone who does headstands, and has been in yoga classes where we spend most of the time getting the body prepped for so strenuous a pose (muchas gracias Monique Richards) – the sine qua non of doing a headstand properly is not to compress the cervical spine.
Is headstand for everyone? Absolutely not, but I'm still not convinced that they are categorically bad either.
What I can tell you is we need more yoga teachers who understand not just the poses but proprioception and how the body functions as a whole – and how to convey/evoke that in their students.
( Also muchas gracias to Friend of the Connection, Chanandler Bung).