Misinformation about COVID-19 is spreading in the yoga community, experts say
Misinformation about COVID-19 is spreading in the yoga community, experts say

Misinformation about COVID-19 is spreading in the yoga community, experts say

The Yoga Alliance has created a website to help share science-based information.

Yoga is practiced by tens of thousands of people in the United States, but some practitioners sound the alarm about what they say is a dangerous spread of anti-scientific views, including around COVID-19.

Laura Rose Schwartz said she was so disturbed by what she saw and heard that she left the yoga studio she opened in Virginia.

When she subsequently moved to California, Rose Schwartz said she also ran into the same concerns there.

“With the pandemic, I pretty much immediately saw a lot of conspiracy theories hovering around on social media among yoga and wellness practitioners, misconceptions about the vaccines,” she said.Good morning America. “” It seems that anti-wax mood is very prevalent in the yoga world. “

Cecile Simmons studies disinformation as a research leader at the Department of Strategic Dialogue, a nonprofit organization that studies disinformation and extremism. She wrote an essay last year about her surprise at finding conspiracy theories and disinformation in her local yoga class.

“During the pandemic, more and more yoga influencers have begun spreading misleading claims about vaccination,” Simmons told GMA. “We have seen people who have taken anti-vaccine views and who did not have them before.”

Less than 65% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19and the desire to be vaccinated decreases as the omicron variant decreases, according to the Associated Press.

Derek Beres, co-host of the podcast “Conspirituality,” which tracks the yoga and wellness communities, said the spread of health misinformation in the yoga community is not new with COVID-19.

“Misinformation has been spreading in the yoga community for decades,” Beres told ABC News’ Kaylee Hartung. “There is a constant sense of this idea of ​​sovereignty and yoga that I know better than the doctors. I know better than the system.”

Social media has promoted the spread of misinformation, according to Beres.

“It just allows disinformation to spread like something we’ve experienced before,” he said. “People are really confused because they see someone they know and trust and they get misinformation.”

According to Beres, disinformation can be hard to spot on social media. It can also be difficult for people to know how to interact with people who deny the science around COVID-19 vaccines.

Bere’s advice is to “listen first.”

“Start asking them questions based on what they’re actually saying, and actually get them to reflect at the moment on the information they’re giving you,” he said. “It could be controversial, but you can open them up to other possibilities.”

To help counter the spread of misinformation in the yoga community, Yoga Alliance, an organization describing itself as the biggest nonprofit representing the yoga community, ABC News told it has set up an “online resource center” with information about COVID-19.

“We are also working closely with public health experts to share timely and relevant information with the yoga community as we all continue to navigate these challenging times,” the Alliance said in a statement.

“We urge everyone in the yoga community, including practitioners, to remain vigilant and active in our shared responsibility by doing what we can to stop the spread of misinformation both online and in our community,” the statement continued. “This only includes sharing information from credible sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and its peer agencies around the world, following science-supported recommendations from those organizations, reporting misinformation on social media platforms and marking misinformation when you see it.”

The Alliance continued: “In addition to the human cost, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for small businesses such as yoga teachers and study owners. We believe that the fastest and most effective way to recovery lies in everyone working with the tools available to each of us so we can all put this pandemic behind us. “

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