The Flip Side of Yoga: 12 Downsides of Yoga (Insights for Safe Practice!)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

people practicing yoga lesson with instructor, sitting
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It might seem absurd to think about yoga being anything but good for you. Yoga is all things good, right? Some say that practicing yoga comes with some disadvantages and risks, and it’s hard not to wonder if that’s true. The only way to find out is to consider the potential risks involved when you welcome yoga into your life.

In order to reap the benefits and rewards of yoga, you have to practice consistently and get instruction from a qualified and experienced yoga tutor. The below disadvantages and risks could become a reality for you if you throw yourself into yoga without the correct approach. 

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the possible disadvantages and risks of practicing yoga, as well as pieces of advice on how to remedy these potential problems or avoid them.

These are 12 disadvantages and risks of yoga.

1. Potential Glaucoma complications.

Word or phrase Glaucoma in a dictionary yoga
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Whoa! Yoga causes Glaucoma? That’s pretty scary, isn’t it? Well, here’s the thing. Some sources say that certain yoga positions such as a head stand, shoulder stand, or inversion can cause pressure to increase in the eyes. If you are prone to, or at risk of Glaucoma, this can certainly exacerbate the problem. 

Does this mean that if you have Glaucoma or have a family history of it means that you can’t enjoy yoga? No, it doesn’t. It just means that you have to discuss the issue with your yoga instructor, so that the poses and positions in your class can be modified for you. Modifying poses ensures that the risk of complications is minimized. 

2. Back injury.

Here’s the clincher… Everyone says that yoga is good for your back, and then you read that it can cause back injury. What’s that all about? 

Well, the reality is that yoga is very good for strengthening the back, but if you do certain poses aggressively or too enthusiastically before you have built up the required back strength, it can result in injury. You can cause injury or irritate vulnerable discs in your back, particularly the discs located in the lumbar spine. 

To avoid this, make sure that you always warm up before a session and that you take the poses and stances slowly and carefully. If you feel strain, stop, and reposition. You won’t be able to do every move correctly from the very beginning. 

There are 7 yoga poses that can cause possible back injury, so always do these carefully: Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), Triangle (Trikonasana), Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana), Camel (Ustrasana), Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I), Cobra, and Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. 

woman having painful muscle injury in lower back yoga
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3. Increased blood pressure.

Practicing yoga doesn’t specifically increase blood pressure. In fact, it can be used to reduce blood pressure.

What can increase blood pressure is the heavy breathing and some of the inversion poses, such as Breath of Fire pose. If you have an existing high blood pressure difficulty, you might want to avoid poses that are similar to inversion poses. 

You can also focus on poses that are specifically known to reduce blood pressure such as: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), Posterior Stretch (Pashchimottanasana), Plow (Halasana).

4. Muscle strain.

Yoga practitioners are probably at more risk of muscle strain when they first begin practicing yoga. Strain to a major muscle group usually happens when a student overstretches. It can happen to anyone as yoga introduces new poses and stretches that the body is not used to. 

To avoid muscle strain, make sure that you listen to your body. You should feel something when you stretch, but it should be a mild feeling. If it’s painful, stop immediately. 

5. Exhaustion.

Yoga poses work on the body and mind on a deeper level. Practicing yoga is a full-body workout, and because classes are between an hour and one-and-a-half hours, they can be quite exhausting. Exhaustion can show itself in the form of fatigue, feeling weak, dizziness, and even nausea. 

To ensure that you don’t suffer exhaustion, make sure that you eat a light meal at least 2 hours before practice and have a bottle of water handy throughout your practice. Also, don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Listen to your body and respect it. If it’s tired, take a break. 

woman student looking at laptop yoga
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6. Possible stagnation and boredom.

Many yoga classes follow the same pattern in each and every lesson. This can create boredom as students feel like they are stagnating. If this is the case, speak to your instructor about incorporating something new every week. It is important to challenge yourself, and because there are so many types and styles of yoga, there is no real need to get bored or stagnate at all. 

7. Spiritual confusion.

Yoga is based on a belief system that differs from most mainstream systems. Take, for instance, the article that was featured in the Daily Telegraph. Apparently, some Sydney churches started banning yoga classes from being practiced in the church halls as they believe it would lead to Christians worshipping false gods and bring on spiritual confusion. You can read the article here

Of course, yoga can be to you what you want it to be. It can be a way of life, a belief system, or a form of physical exercise. How you interpret it and the meaning you give to it is entirely up to you.

8. Overheating and dehydration.

This might not make sense to you. Isn’t a yoga class slow, sedate, meditational, and practiced in a cool environment? Yes, it is, but some styles of yoga, such as Hot Yoga, are designed to be slightly different. This type of yoga can cause dehydration, overheating, and overstretching. 

If you are practicing yoga and want to avoid overheating and dehydration, make sure that you drink plenty of water during your class and take the poses with ease. If you feel like you are exhausted, too hot, or parched, take a breather – you can even leave the class for a few minutes.

girl rest and drink water in gym yoga
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9. Difficulty self-learning.

It can be quite challenging to teach yourself yoga without the help of a professional instructor. Many people look at YouTube videos and hope to “wing it”. The problem with this is that people very often miss the finer details of getting the poses right. They also miss out on the community feeling and the one-on-one assistance that an instructor can provide. 

Those who don’t have the money or transport to get to and from regular classes might find it quite difficult to learn yoga on their own. You can avoid this by joining a free community yoga class. Some areas offer this. You can also form a small group of your own and then ask a contact with yoga experience to attend and assist with instruction. 

10. Exacerbation of existing injuries.

If you have a sports injury or a stretching injury in your past, you will need to start taking yoga classes with exceptional care. While yoga is punted as a calm and relaxed way to stretch and workout, it still places strain on the body. 

If you have an old injury and you are hurting during practice, slow down, and focus on building strength and perfecting your technique. There is no reason to put your body at risk of exacerbated injury. 

11. Possible mismatching of goals and physical condition.

Many newbies to the world of yoga try to jump right in. They assume that because they are healthy in general, yoga will be a ‘piece of cake’. This is not the case. Yoga is tough, and it takes time and practice to learn. 

Young man training and exercising at home yoga
Elnur / Shutterstock

If you choose the most difficult yoga class as your first class, you are probably going to realize that you are not quite as fit and limber as you think you are. To avoid this, choose a class that is most in light with your current physical condition. 

12. Incorrect techniques taught by an inexperienced instructor.

Yoga is the latest craze, and often that means that relatively new practitioners wrongly consider themselves experts. When you learn yoga from someone who doesn’t understand the belief system and isn’t familiar with all of the poses and how to modify certain poses to help the group better achieve them, then you may end up hurt or won’t reap all the rewards of yoga. 

When choosing a yoga class, look into the credentials of your instructor. Choose an instructor that has experience and a good track record. 

In closing

While most people don’t consider yoga to be risky to their physical health, the reality is that if it isn’t done right, it can be disadvantageous. To ensure that you avoid possible risk and only reap the advantages of the practice, join a class with a reputable instructor, take it slow, and listen to your body along the way

Young man practicing yoga
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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.