Dangers of Yoga and Meditation



Millions of American and Western-world women are practicing meditation techniques that were developed for male Hindus who lived a thousand years ago. What could go wrong? The short answer is, relatively little - mostly people get uncomfortable doing the wrong technique for their body type, and quit. But some continue, and over a period of years, they lose touch with themselves.

Yoga is 85% or more women. Practicing techniques developed by and for men from India. Yoga Meditation, in particular, was developed almost exclusively for celibate Hindu males (and some Buddhist males).

Keep in mind that it is probably safer to do yoga, even if you get injured once in awhile, than to not do yoga. By a huge margin.

Still, injuries can sideline us for months or even years. And a major thought in yoga is, “the dangers that have not yet come can be avoided.” Heyam duhkham anagatam.

heyam = avoided, prevented
duhkham = pain, suffering, sorrow
anagatam = which has not yet come

“avoidable is the suffering which has not yet come.”
Patanjali, Yoga Sutras, 2.16

A skill to be cultivated is to recognize the dangers each individual is prone to - by her individual nature, constitutional imbalances or tendencies, previous conditioning, selective attention, previous traumas or injuries - and head them off in advance.

Yoga Journal Interview with Desikachar



T.K.V. Desikachar brings to the practice a full spectrum of yoga therapy, philosophy, and Ayurveda learned from his father, T. Krishnamacharya.
By Diane Anderson

YJ: What distinguishes your teaching from other yoga?

The practice is adapted to suit the needs, abilities, and interests of each individual. Unfortunately, today's standardization is a one-size-fits-all approach. This can impose great risk. This is why my father chose the sutra Heyam duhkham anagatam as the motto for our institute: Pain in any form must be anticipated and avoided. I never compromise by standardizing yoga practices for different people. Adapting yoga to suit the needs of every unique individual is where the true greatness of yoga lies.

What do you wish yoga students might experience?

My wish is that more students experience the vastness of yoga, not simply asana. Increased attention to the concept of body consciousness has become very popular.

Yoga was primarily evolved for inner limbs such as mind, senses, emotions. Unfortunately, many yoga teachers themselves are not aware of these techniques to be able to guide students in these domains. It is my sincere wish that both teachers and students of yoga move beyond their obsession with the body level, to actually experience these subtle and more powerful dimensions of this ancient wisdom. This requires patience and commitment and a serious search to look at oneself.

Yoga Journal

From The Dangers of Yoga website


Dangers of Yoga

Aetna InteliHealth.

Potential Dangers
"(...) The following have been rarely reported : Nerve or vertebral disc damage — Caused by prolonged postures, sometimes involving the legsEye damage and blurred vision, including worsening of glaucoma — Caused by increased eye pressure with headstandsStroke or blood vessel blockage — Caused by decreased blood flow to the brain or other body parts from postures.
There is a case report of a woman who presented with pneumothorax (potentially dangerous air around the lung) caused by a yoga-breathing technique called Kapalabhati pranayama. There is another report of a teen-age girl who died of obstructed breathing associated with mouth-to-mouth yoga (in which one person breathes into another person's mouth using yoga breathing techniques).
However, a long-acting barbiturate (which can cause decreased breathing) may have been partially at fault. Chronic cheilitis (inflammation of the lips) and persistent reflux have been reported in yoga instructors with unclear relationship to this modality.
People with disc disease, fragile or atherosclerotic neck arteries, a risk of blood clots, extremely high or low blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, ear problems, severe osteoporosis or cervical spondylitis should avoid some yoga poses. Certain yoga breathing techniques should be avoided in people with heart or lung disease.
Some experts advise caution in people with a history of psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia), because there is a risk of worsening symptoms, although this has not been clearly shown in studies."


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[MEDLINE]
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Duval EL, Van Coster R, Verstraeten K. (1998). Acute traumatic stroke: a case of bow hunter's stroke in a child. European Journal Emergency Medecine, Jun, 5(2):259-63. Department of Paediatrics, University of Ghent, Belgium.* [PubMed]
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Fong, K.Y., Cheung, R.T. Yu, Y.L. Lai, C.W. and Chang, C.M. (1993). Basilar artery occlusion following yoga exercise: A case report. Clin Exp Neurol (Australia), 30:104-109.*
.
Gallardo MJ, Aggarwal N, Cavanagh HD, Whitson JT. (2006). Progression of glaucoma associated with the Sirsasana (headstand) yoga posture. Adv Ther, Nov-Dec;23(6):921-5.* [
PubMed]

Hanus SH, Homer TD, Harter DH. (1977). Vertebral artery occlusion complicating yoga exercises. Arch Neurol., Sep;34(9):574-5.* [
PubMed]

"Vertebral artery occlusion developed in a young adult shortly after he had performed neck manipulations during yoga movements. Yoga exercises are a rare cause of acute medullary or cerebellar infarction."

Ikemi, Y., Ishikawa, H. Goyeche, J. R. and Sasaki, Y. (1978).“Positive” and “negative” aspects of the “altered states of consciousness” induced by autogenic training, Zen and yoga. Psychother Psychosom (Switzerland), 30(3-4):170-178
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Johnson DB, Tierney MJ, Sadighi, PJ. (2004). Kapalabhati pranayama: breath of fire or cause of pneumothorax? Chest. May; 125(5):1951-2. (Comments in Chest, 2005, May;127(5):1863.)*
[
PubMed]

Kashyap, AS, Anand, KP & Kashyap, S. (2007). Complications of yoga. Emergency Medicine Journal, 24(3): 231. *
[PubMed]
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[Am J Psychiatry] [Commentaires]

Kugler, J. (1972). Neurologische Storungen nach Yogaubungen. Neurologic disorders following yoga exercises. Med Klin. (West Germany), 15 Sep, 67(37):1195. *[En Allemand]
.
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[Texte complet]

Machander, A.R. (1982). Comments on the increase of intrathoracic pressure in the practice of pranayama. Jógová Cvicení, pp. 65-70. * [In Czechoslovakian.]

Margo, C. E., Rowda, J. and Barletta, J. (1992). Bilateral conjunctival varix thromboses associated with habitual headstanding. American Journal of Ophthalmology, Jun 15;113(6):726-7.* [
PubMed]

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Naveen, KV, Teiles, Shirley. (2003). Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation. Yoga and Psychosis : Risks and Therapeutic Potential. Journal of Indian Psychology. Vol. 21 (1).

“There is a strong interest in the correlation between yoga (especially meditation) and psychosis. Some reports have described : (1) appearance of psychotic symptoms for the first time after meditation, (2) precipitation of acute psychotic episodes in those with history of psychosis, after meditation…”
“Meditation has been gaining popularity as a psychotherapeutic intervention (Frith, Stevens, Johnstone & Crow, 1979). However adverse effects of meditation have also been reported, viz. depersonalization, altered reality testing, and the appearance of previously repressed, highly changed memories and conflicts (Glueck & Stroebel, 1976 ; Kennedy, 1976). Similar responses were reported in a single subject several weeks after initiation into Transcendental Meditation (French, Schmid & Ingalls, 1975). Another report described how acute psychotic episodes were precipitated by intensive meditation in patients with a history of schizophrenia (Lazarus, 1976). A subsequent study attempted to analyze the correlation between contemplation and psychosis (Chan-Ob & Boonyanaruthee, 1999). Observations were made in three patients who presented psychotic symptoms subsequent to practice of meditation. In two of them sleep loss following a “wrong doing” of meditation was found to be the main cause and drug withdrawal was the principal factor in the third case. Also, in the case of Qigong, a Chinese meditation, a series of psychological and physiological disturbances followed inappropriate training (Xu, 1994). Some patients experienced a range of physical and mental symptoms which came to be called “Qigong deviation syndrome” which disappeared after the exercise was stopped. In traditional yoga texts, it has been mentioned that “by a mistaken course of yoga the yogi brings upon himself all diseases” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2:16). Ayuktabhyasa yogena sarvaroga samudbhavaha. Vishnudevananda, 1999).”


Robin, Mel. (2002).
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Shakti - kundalini yoga. John F Kennedy University. Fall 2006. Bibliographie d’un cours.
[Texte complet]

Kundalini

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Meditation

Aetna InteliHealth

Potential Dangers

"Most types of meditation are believed to be safe in healthy individuals. However, the safety of meditation is not well studied. People with underlying psychiatric disorders should speak with a mental health provider before beginning meditation because there have been rare reports of mania or worsening of other symptoms. Some publications warn that intensive meditation can cause anxiety, depression or confusion, although this is not well studied.
Meditation should be used with caution in patients with underlying psychiatric conditions such as mood disorders, personality disorders, seizures, or psychotic conditions.
The use of meditation should not delay the time it takes to see a health care provider for diagnosis or treatment with more proven techniques or therapies. Meditation should not be used as the sole approach to illness."


Side effects. Site "Meditation research"
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Meditation. Indiopedia.

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Deikman, Arthur J. (1966). Implications of experimentally induced contemplative meditation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 142: 101-116. Also in Psychedelics. B. Aronson and H. Oamond (eds.) (New York: Doubleday) 1970, pp. 296-320.*

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Fenwick, Peter. (1980). Can we still recommend meditation. British Medical Journal, 287, 1401, November 1983.
[Texte complet]

Hansen W. (1980). Psychoses and meditation. Ugeskr Laeger, Dec 29;143(1): 20-22. [en Danois] *
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Heide, F.J. & Borkovec, T.D. (1984).
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Jaseja H. (2005). Meditation may predispose to epilepsy : an insight into alteration in brain environment induced by meditation. Med Hypotheses, 64(3): 464-7.
[PubMed]

Kugler, J. (1972). Neurologische Storungen nach Yogaubungen. [Neurologic disorders following
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.
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..
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[Texte complet]

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[PubMed]

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[wkhealth]

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[PubMed]

Transcendantal Meditation

TranceNet présente les résultats de diverses recherches.

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Heide, Frederick J. and T.D. Borkovec. (1984)"Relaxation-induced anxiety: mechanism and theoretical implications." Behavioral Research Therapy, pp1-12. *

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[Extraits] [cat.inist.fr]

Qi gong

Qi gong psychotic reaction. DSM-IV-TR. American Psychiatric Association. Masson, Paris, 2003, ISBN : 2-294-00663-1.

Qigong deviation syndrome. CCTM-2. DSM.

Aetna InteliHealth
Potential Dangers

Qi Gong is generally believed to be to be safe in most people when practiced according to standard moderate principles and when learned under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Unguided exercises may worsen symptoms in some patients with psychiatric disorders. There is one report of an allergic skin reaction in Qi Gong trainees, although the exact cause is not clear. Qi Gong should not be used as the sole treatment for severe illnesses in place of more proven therapies. Use of Qi Gong should not delay consultation with a qualified health care provider for such conditions.


Beng-Yeong, Ng. (1999). Qigong-induced mental disorders: a review. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 33 (2), 197–206.*
[cat.inist.fr]

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Spiritual crisis

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Meeting mars 31th 2006. [Texte complet]

Lukoff, David Ph. D.
Spiritual Competency Resource Center.
Lesson 3.1 Spiritual Emergence.
Lesson 3.5 Meditation and Spiritual Practices

Mental Health Matters: Spirituality. Vidéo (voir à 8 min. 15.) Entretien avec Dr. David Lukoff un psychologue, un professeur de psychologie et un des experts en spiritualité et santé mentale, 16 avril 2008.
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Reiki

Aetna InteliHealth.


Potential Dangers
"Reiki is not recommended as the sole treatment for potentially serious medical conditions, and its use should not delay the time it takes to consult with a health care provider or receive established therapies. Serious adverse effects have not been reported in association with Reiki. Some Reiki practitioners believe that Reiki should be used cautiously in individuals with psychiatric illnesses."