Yoga in the news

Lately we’re having our awareness raisedabout the damage that unwise practice of yoga postures and obsessive pushing of

Yoga postures Bhujangasana

Image via Wikipedia

ourselves can create, or “How yoga can wreck your body.” People are surprised to learn about yoga injuries, I think, because yoga is supposed to be a “healing” art. Who gets hurt from healing? Lots of people: ask the 19 people who survived from the sweat lodge incident with injuries, or all the people who’ve been on the receiving end of medication errors in hospitals.

I damaged my rotator cuff pushing my limits in Ashtanga with a teacher who told me the pain in my shoulder would go away if I just kept doing what I was doing. I stress fractured my femur – twice! – running barefoot in my late teens. Clearly, I learn slowly. And that’s really the point. How can we be surprised that in a culture of harder, faster & more, the very people who are most likely to sacrifice comfort for goals – the fitness geeks and perfectionists – push themselves past the limits of their bodies to achieve postures and feats once reserved for the decades-honed master? Really? What’s surprising is that it took so long.

The status poses have been inching further and further from the core of how yoga cultivates well-being, poise and wisdom and closer and closer to playground antics reminiscent of boom-box days and circus acts. Don’t get me wrong: if the pursuit of these body folding feats brings you joy, then more power to you. But let’s not pretend that your Astavakrasana or Tittibhasana is what makes you wise or a good yoga teacher (unless you are specifically teaching others to do those poses, in which case it is technically essential). And let’s not pretend that extreme accomplishments are without risk; it’s a simple equation in any endeavor. But let’s also not equate status poses with yoga, enlightenment or wisdom. They’re fun, gorgeous, interesting and difficult, among many other things. But the basis for human value and worth, for reverence or teaching wisdom? That’s a mistake that can only be made in culture that sees adrenaline as the hormone of enlightenment.

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2 thoughts on “Yoga in the news

  1. Pingback: #Fitness2012: from bet.com, News: Yoga and the Racial Divide | Videos | BET | lifestyle30

  2. Pingback: A creature of periodic and intense obsessions « All She Wants To Do Is…

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