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Another Response to NYT’s Wreckage

Here’s another one – Yoga Need Not Wreck Your Body written by Irin Carmom over at Salon.com. The subtitle made me laugh out loud – “An incendiary New York Times magazine excerpt doesn’t tell the whole story” Incendiary indeed!

Here a taste, and she makes a very good point about teachers:

The biggest elisions were implied but never emphasized: the importance of good teaching and the wild divergence of practices under the umbrella of American yoga. Based on having practiced with (at least) dozens of different yoga teachers over the years around New York and occasionally globally, I’d argue those are the most important factors of all.

The worst teachers preen in the front of the room and pretend they’re alone. Slightly below them in my estimation are the ones who expect all bodies to be created the same. The ones who shouted at me to simply shove down my heels during downward dog in defiance of tight calves and hamstrings never got the chance to do so again. It took me longer to realize that the teachers who enthusiastically encouraged me to move deeper into existing flexibility – say, a deep lower-back arch theoretically ideal for upward facing dog, a hip turnout that made baddha kanasa effortless – were hurtling me toward injury. The ones who urged modifications to not exacerbate imbalances, or to change emphasis to strength over flexibility, were offering a more sensible path.

In other words, all bodies aren’t shaped the same way, nor do we use them uniformly, so why would we expect the same remedies and actions to work on all of them?

That’s one reason I’m deeply skeptical of practices like Bikram, which are the same sequence over and over again.