PROFIT-DRIVEN and unqualified yogis and yoga centres are blatantly marketing their services as an alternative treatment for chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
This is in clear violation of the law, which states nobody can claim that their products or services can prevent or treat 20 illnesses, including the two, that are listed under the Medicine (Advertisement and Sale) 1956 (Revised 1983) Act.
Malaysian Association of Traditional Indian Medicine (Peptim) president Raggupathi V.R. Somasundaram Pillai, in cautioning the public against going to such centres and practitioners, said yoga instructors themselves risked severe injuries if they were not trained properly.
“Yoga may be dangerous because it can also injure those who perform it improperly.
“One example is the shoulder stand. A person with anaemia cannot perform this as it can cause them to faint,” he said, adding that yoga practitioners also have to watch their diet.
Raggupathi also expressed his concern over the high number of unqualified “fast-track” yoga instructors.
“They come to my class and after three months, I see them running yoga centres and calling themselves ‘teachers’. I have also seen people who sustained injuries, including to their spine, after going to these yoga centres.”
Khemchand B. Gupta, a yoga teacher at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indian Cultural Centre (NSCBICC), said qualified instructors should be able to recognise their students’ condition and tailor their course and yoga poses on a case-by-case basis.
“We have to select the postures based on the problem. For example, to help alleviate back pain, we have to draw up a module and repeat the techniques a few times, but with lesser intensity.
“If you are a qualified instructor, you should know that the subject cannot perform the forward-bending posture as it will worsen the pain,” he said.
Khemchand, too, had an issue with those running yoga centres with only basic training.
“Yoga is not merely an exercise, it is about the human body. So, if you are not qualified and lack knowledge, you have no business teaching it.
“There are so many dos and don’ts in yoga that you have to know. Even if you do it for wellness, the teacher will still have to assess the condition of the students,” he said, adding that risks associated with poorly practised yoga included damage to the backbone, tearing of muscles, ligaments and back pain.
Khemchand, who has been practising yoga for 18 years, said he had more to learn about the ancient practice.