Hey everyone! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I will answer the question for you. Alright, this month’s question comes from Ananda and it’s about whether yoga practitioners get more injuries in cold climates.
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“I hope you are well. I practiced yoga for several years in Europe, relocated to South East Asia for a few years, and [am] now back in wintery Europe. The first thing I noticed was how tight and stuck my hips felt and to less of an extent, [my] back and shoulders. It just takes a long time for them to warm up. I am practicing with leggings and hoodies! Haha!
My question is: Do you think many of the yoga injuries could be attributed to practicing in a cold environment? [Is it because] the tissues simply cannot flow and consequently tear more? Any research about this? What is your experience, as I know that you transit between cold and warm climates?” [DK: Yes, I do when I’m traveling. We’re post-covid so there’s more travel to come I assume.]
The good news Ananda is that I asked this very same question many years ago, before we did our first injury research on yoganatomy.com. This is under the Yoganatomy research project on the website. This in particular was right after William Broad’s book came out on yoga, The Science of Yoga. And there was all the hubbub going on you know, asking are you injuring yourself by practicing yoga, and all that stuff.
I asked the same question. Does time of year, meaning winter, spring, summer, have any relationship to yoga injuries—or temperature, which you can kind of correlate? If, you know, you’re in the northern hemisphere, you’re in Europe during the winter months or another cold climate, is it more likely that you’ll have yoga injuries? So, when we did the survey, we asked questions about time of year, location, and all of these things so that we could ask those questions. In cold climates, was there an increased rate of yoga injuries being reported? And the answer was no. There was no correlation.
Cold climates don’t mean more yoga injuries
In fact, it was very clear that there was no relationship between yoga injuries and a cold time of year, not even a little relationship. Which, I’m with you. I thought of the same question because I thought this must have an impact. But, it’s possible, just to put an alternative out there, which is also not proven, that is—and it’s not to say our tissues don’t generally feel like they’re pliable when we’re warm. That is definitely true. We all know that experientially. But, when they’re tighter, let’s say, we tend to go slower because the sensation of tightness has a tendency to slow us down, make us a little bit more mindful, and make us be a little bit more careful. So that’s one explanation as to why there was no correlation, at least in our research.