Study: More men injured in the yoga studio

Published On: May 07 2013 08:55:30 PM EDT   Updated On: May 08 2013 10:40:00 PM EDT

Yoga isn't just for women anymore.  A year ago, it may have been mostly women in a class but now, you'll find classes coast to coast specially geared towards guys.

Rachel Moncayo witnessed the migration of men in the fitness center she owns.

"Many of them are athletes, marathoners, tri-athletes and they're really enjoying the health benefit that they're getting from the practice," said Moncayo.

Ed Fuller is a triathlete.  He started yoga a few months ago at the urging of his wife.  Now, he's a regular.

"It's really not for wimps. It's very strenuous and it works the muscle groups you may not work in any other kind of sport," said Fuller.

But for former yoga enthusiast, Michael Conti, a once active lifestyle of traveling with his wife and hiking with his sons is over.  He says he now lives his life in pain and he blames yoga.

"I thought maybe I tweaked my knee or something and then it turned out to be much more serious than just a meniscus problem. It turned out to be nerve damage," said Conti.

After reading "The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards," Conti wrote to its author, William Broad.

"That letter became a turning point. I slapped myself on the forehead, I can remember doing this and thinking, wow. Most of the letters I’m getting about serious injuries have been from guys," said Broad.

Broad started to investigate federal data on emergency room visits for yoga-related injuries.  Although men only made up 16 percent of his study, they accounted for 20 percent of the strains, 24 percent of the dislocations, 30 percent of the fractures and a whopping 71 percent of nerve damage injuries linked to yoga.  By contrast, women only accounted for the vast majority of fainting episodes.

Sports specialist Dr. Tanya Hagan says in general, there could be a few reasons for this.

“Men, with their increased muscle mass and decreased flexibility, are pushing those joints beyond their appropriate physiologic limits,” she said.

Jonathan Creamer has a website, Yoga For Men, and is a yoga instructor.  He points out people shouldn't expect to be able to walk into a studio and pose perfectly.

"People don't get that. They see the magazine covers, they see the pretty postures, and they think they need to be doing that," Creamer said.

Studies show most yoga injuries occur in class rather than at home.  Broad tells us men, who make up 18 percent of the 20 million practicing yoga in the United States, tend to pit their strength against their inflexibility and injure themselves.  He believes some men need to be reminded that gritting your teeth and pushing through isn't yoga.