Judging from the scope of media attention, it seems that yoga popularity is reaching an apex: time to bring on the naysayers.
The headline for a recent article in the New York Times screams, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”. Yeah. Subtle. Not trying to sell papers with sensationalism or anything, are they?
In light of all the miracle claims made in the name of yoga, I suppose it is fair to publish an article that takes the opposite stance. However, the article points out several serious cases of illness/injury that are vaguely linked to yoga. Yes, vaguely. I do not see any hard evidence here, despite the fact that the one veteran yoga teacher interviewed for the article feels his surgery is certainly linked to his aggressive practice of yoga. I am sure my runner and skier friends know that their bad knees can, in large part, be linked to their activities as well. Get over it.
Funny, you might think, that, as an avid yogini and yoga teacher, I would point out bad press about yoga. On the contrary, I welcome it, especially from bastions of the media like the New York Times. It adds such panache to my favorite topic and opens the door for dialogue, something so lacking in our culture of late. Let’s talk about yoga and exactly what it can do for you.
Is yoga the magic bullet that will cure all that ails you? Will it make you into super-flexi-Gumby? Will your body become a lean machine such that no man/woman can resist you? Sorry but, no.
What you may find, however, with the proper instruction, is gradually increasing flexibility, potentially heightened immunity, a greater sense of peace and mental wellness and increased strength and toning. But, more importantly, good yoga teaches you about yourself: who you are and why you are here. And no matter what those revelations turn out to be, they are vastly more important that doing a picture-perfect downward-facing dog.
Mr. Broad’s article addresses a really small part of yoga: asana. The intention of asana (yoga poses) is to prepare the body to sit still in meditation. But here in the West, yoga has become asana, and asana has become a competitive sport. That has opened up a Pandora’s Box leading down the pathway to potential injury because we Americans want the end results right now.
Herein lies the beauty of Viniyoga, the yoga I teach. There is no competitive edge. I show you how to gently open up your body as a pathway to your mind. I emphasize that you should refrain from pushing yourself physically but rather, ask that you honor and listen to your body, each day, right now. That’s all.
Take the information in the article with a grain of salt like you would any news item, the all-holy New York Times byline notwithstanding. Yes, there is questionable yoga out there. There are questionable doctors, lawyers and journalists out there too. The final message is learn to trust yourself to know what is good for you.
I would be happy to show you safe, effective yoga. Please contact me at 804.435.5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.