You might think of yoga as primarily a way to prevent and perhaps recover from other sports injuries. However, it can also be an intense physical endeavor in its own right—one which, instructor Adam Whiting told us on this week’s Injured Athletes Club podcast, is going through a transformation in terms of how its practitioners teach and practice.

Teachers and trainers like Adam are infusing more anatomy into their understanding of each asana or pose, working to ensure yogis move through postures in a way that doesn’t increase their long-term risk for tendonitis, tears in the cartilage of their hips, back problems, or other slowly developing overuse injuries.

Adam’s knowledge and passion for this approach comes in part from his own experience with injury—most notably, an extruded disc in his lower back that required surgery. He shared his story with us first in an interview for our book Rebound, and now in the podcast. Here, he delves a bit deeper into how his training in yoga and meditation served him during his recovery, and also how his behavior on the mat, in front of the class, and even on social media changed as a result of his experience.

Adam told us:

  • How injuries are viewed in yoga—and the emerging paradigm shift (6:48)
  • The three types of yoga teachers—engineers, athletes, and mystics—and where he falls on the spectrum of each (13:41)
  • When his back problems first began, and a prediction that would eventually come to fruition (15:56)
  • His previously “aggressive” style of practice, and how that may have contributed to his issues (17:40)
  • How being temporarily unable to demonstrate yoga poses transformed his teaching (25:13)
  • The role social media plays in perpetuating potentially injury-inducing yoga poses, and how he aims to strike a balance in using it (28:04)
  • Why back surgery was such a physical relief but a mental struggle, and how Yoga Nidra and similar practices helped him recover (33:53)
  • How he realized yoga wasn’t a panacea—and why that’s been a good thing for his practice, his teaching, and the discipline overall (39:11)
  • Why, though the pain was tremendous and nothing he’d wish to relieve, he’s ultimately glad he went through this experience (42:37)
  • His biggest advice for yogis, on an off the mat: it doesn’t matter what something looks like on the outside or on Instagram, it’s whether you’re doing it with integrity and balance


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