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Is yoga dangerous?

This is a question that may surprise you. In recent years, in the media, we continue to praise this practice which seems to have all the virtues.

However, you have to ask yourself. Does yoga have any bad side effects? Can it affect our physical, mental and even spiritual health? Is it really recommended for children? Should yoga and transcendental meditation be taught in school? If yoga and meditation are so amazing, why are there help centers for victims of these practices in Ottawa, Vancouver, the United States and elsewhere in the world?

The questions that I am submitting, I had to ask myself by force of circumstance. I myself had a negative spiritual experience related to a practice of yoga and meditation with mantra during the year 2004. After a few months of practice, I was suddenly attacked by an energetic influx which completely disrupted my central nervous system for more than ten days. My health was seriously damaged and I was weakened for months.

Following this and on the strength of a decade of experience as a health research officer in a hospital environment, I began in 2005 a real quest for information on the side effects of yoga and associated practices such as meditation, transcendental meditation and qi gong. I also conducted interviews with former teachers and students who told me how these practices affected them. What I discovered deserves to be shared and disseminated.

Symptoms and effects reported by specialists

The practice of yoga, meditation and qi gong (Chinese yoga) can lead to a range of physical and mental symptoms and different syndromes in some people:
  kundalini syndrome, spiritual emergence crises and the psychotic reaction to qigong.  Experts have spoken:

Dr Nicki Crowley, psychiatrist at the Lead for the Crisis Resolution Team clinic, Buckinghamshire, England
She claims that these practices (yoga, meditation and qi gong) can cause spiritual crises which are intense intrapsychic experiences similar to pathological psychotic states.

Dr. Jessica S. Lu and Dr. Joseph M. Pierre from Los Angeles
They studied a case where Bikram yoga caused psychosis with visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, quick thoughts, restlessness and aggression.2

Richard Castillo, University of Hawaii professor of psychology and medical anthropologist
He did a lot of studies with hundreds of yogis in India to conclude that the long term effects of meditative trances are split personalities, visual and auditory religious hallucinations, beliefs in their own spiritual powers, a permanent state of consciousness altered and divided, visions, etc.3

Other Findings

Yoga is associated with kundalini awakening and  kundalini syndrome  with dozens of symptoms including: irrational behaviors, visions, involuntary movements usually associated with mental illness, psychological and emotional disorders, mood swings, confusion, etc...4

Similar to kundalini syndrome, the
  psychotic reaction to qigong  deserves a place in the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (CCTM-2) and as a cultural syndrome, in the manual used by our doctors in Quebec. This reaction can appear after doing qigong and presents as an acute, time-limited episode with dissociative, paranoid, and other psychotic or non-psychotic symptoms.

Following the practice of transcendental meditation (mantra yoga), 54% were more anxious  5.70% had mental disorders  6  and several had serious psychiatric problems.  7

In children…

Today several schools give yoga and meditation classes to children. However, this practice presents risks and can cause serious harm to the mental and physical health of children:

Sonia Lupien
  Ph.D., neuropsychologist, scientific director of the Fernand-Seguin Research Center, Louis-H. Lafontaine, University of Montreal and Director of the Center for Studies on Human Stress.  She objects to yoga at school because instead of reducing stress, it can actually stress children. She maintains that there is no chance to be taken with a technique that has not been scientifically proven.

Alabama State Department of Education
He enshrined in law a ban on school staff using any techniques that involve or induce states of hypnosis, guided imagery, meditation and yoga.


Alice Christensen, president of the American Yoga Association (AYA).

She says yoga is not appropriate for children under 16 due to its effects on the nervous and glandular systems which can interfere with a child's natural growth.  9

Shabad Saroop Singh Khalsa, yogi at the Équilibrium center in Montreal
He told Denis Lévesque's show on LCN last October 8 that parents should be informed if there is yoga at school and that they should have to accept and approve this practice for their children. It makes perfect sense, he said. Although he downplayed the risks of yoga, he admitted to their existence. A first in Quebec! See this program in which I participated on the site



  www. _   



By Marie-Josée Croteau, health sociologist M. Sc. Family Quebec. Vol.34, no.2. Winter 2009-2010.

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