In L.A., yoga classes are so ubiquitous, the question isn't "Do you take yoga?" but "What kind of yoga do you take--Iyengar, Bikram, predawn Kundalini at Golden Bridge?" Now a new book by a New York Times science writer has local yogis tittering that the exercise can cause weight plateaus and even be physically risky.
The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards ($16) grew out of author William J. Broad's efforts to find scientific evidence to support claims bandied about by the 20 million U.S. consumers of the "yoga industrial complex" (classes, apparel, etc.). Longtime yogi Broad also describes how poses from a medieval Indian "sex cult" evolved into today's fitness routine.
Broad writes that certain moves--inversions and extreme neck manipulations, for example--have been linked to back troubles, deadened nerves and stroke. Broad also finds that yoga can actually lower metabolic rate, which means fewer calories are burned. On the upside, there's evidence yoga creates sex-hormone surges and spurs creativity.
Our takeaway: We're modifying our former gonzo moves and looking forward to hearing Broad read at Vroman's Books in Pasadena on March 30. All things considered, we're happy to be ever more mindful when we hit the mat.