Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is yoga good for you?

A New York Times article by William J. Broad, entitled "How yoga can wreck your body" says that it's not. Broad interviewed Glenn Black, a yoga teacher with vast experience who studied at the legendary Iyengar institute in India. Black says most people who now do Yoga should not be doing it. It's an issue of demographics. Whereas yoga hails from a culture where squatting and sitting cross-legged are the daily norm, most Western students of the art spend most of their days sitting upright in office chairs or in cars. I would add that many of them of them take up yoga at an age where flexibility does not come easily. Also, Black points out that with the growing interest in yoga there has been a proliferation of studios in many of which teachers lack adequate training. The trend, he says, is towards pushing people. My karate teacher, a very fit woman with many years of experience both in martial arts and yoga, suffered a back injury when her Yoga teacher literally twisted her into a particular position. I also treated a practitioner of Ashtanga yoga once who suffered a muscle injury on the hundred and fiftieth repetition of a particular move. He conceded that he was a bit "macho" about yoga -- but said that this was encouraged at the studio where he practiced. I also recall an Ashtanga teacher coming to the karate school where I trained to teach a yoga class, and her shtick seemed to be to prove to us that Ashtanga practitioners were tougher than we were. Is it just me, or is competitiveness not in the spirit of yoga? My conclusion would be that yoga is not to be practiced as a sport or as a mere fitness activity. It's more akin to meditation. Mindfulness is key if you want to avoid being injured. And if you are injured, and you live in or near Toronto, contact me.

Don't try this at home

1 comment:

  1. "Is it just me, or is competitiveness not in the spirit of yoga?" Ha ha! Leave it to North Americans to turn a holistic spiritual practice into a race! I was glad to see this post challenge the unexamined faddist approach to yoga.