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NPR Dives Into NYT’s Yoga Wreckage

So two NPR shows interviewed William Broad, the author of that fiery New York Times Magazine piece last month on Yoga (and how it can “wreck” your body).

The first is with Terry Gross of Fresh Air. I have not listened to this podcast yet.

The second is from Talk of the Nation’s Science Friday show. (You can listen there or read the transcript) John Dankosky interviews Mr. Broad. I’ve listened to this one, and while I may have been predisposed not to like him, I did not like Mr. Broad. He talks of the “yoga industrial complex which has economic incentive.”

I honestly don’t know what yoga planet Broad is on – yoga industrial complex? Seriously? After all, look what happens to greedy, Ayn Rand capitalists who try to sell selfishness to yogis and yoginis.

Listen to it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.

Both are available on iTunes, too, for free download.

Leslie Kaminoff Addresses NY Times Piece

I love this guy – Leslie Kaminoff. Very knowledgable and funny. I met him in May at the Yoga Journal conference in New York City. I hope to study more with him. He runs The Breathing Project and also written a great book on Yoga Anatomy and teaching anatomy to yoga students through his Yoga Anatomy web site.

Here’s a video – his “2 Cents About How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.”

Another Response to NYT’s Wreckage

Here’s another one – Yoga Need Not Wreck Your Body written by Irin Carmom over at 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.

Great Response “How the NYT Can Wreck Yoga” !

This is the best response to the William Broad article Yoga Can Wreck Your Body I’ve read – How the NYT Can Wreck Yoga by Rick Bartz.

Broad is a ‘senior science writer at The Times’, and though his article is heavy on anecdote and slim on science, I agree that the increasing occurrences of injuries in yoga should not be discounted or taken lightly. Still, the temptation to argue Broad’s article paragraph by paragraph is hard to resist: for example, yoga teacher Glenn Black’s repeated, incorrect use of the word ‘ego‘, or the need to go back to the 1970′s to find examples of strokes caused by yoga. The case of the college student who kneeled on his toes for hours ‘praying for world peace’, causing nerve damage, begs the questions: what was he more influenced by; yoga, or Christian penitence? And does one need to inflict suffering on oneself in order to bring about peace? The teachings of Yoga would claim just the opposite.

There are a couple of obvious reasons why there are so many injuries in yoga (which we must acknowledge do on occasion occur, as they do in every physical activity). The nature of the injuries and the way that one responds to an injury also varies greatly. However, Broad did not address this issue, he addressed the most sensationalistic aspects of injury, and this is what I wish to respond to.

Read the whole response. Later he states his concern about “the lack of balance in a report of genuine importance—risk of injury while practicing yoga.”

Me too. Maybe context and more balance will come from others over the next few weeks.

What??? Is Lululemon Thinking???

Holy cow.

Lululemon – just in time for the holiday season – has alienated it’s base.

In case you’ve been living under a rock – Lululemon makes and sells very expensive yoga clothes. They are actually brilliant – well design (with button holes for iPod ears, pockets folds for an id), great colors and are able to be worn on the street without being obscene. Up until now I was amazed at how well they knew their market. They also had a funky web site where you could set up and tend to your goals (called a goaltender).

So then they put on their canvas, recyclable bags – “Who is John Galt” In case you don’t know – he is the a character in Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” The character embodies selfishness. Not exactly how yogi’s and yogini’s like to think of themselves.

(And no, Sen. Rand Paul, the son of GOP candidate Rep. Ron Paul, was not named after the author, though he is reputed to be and Sen. Paul is a big fan of hers.)

As NPR reports –

That question is on shopping bags that Lululemon recently started to give out and it’s got some of the company’s core customers up in arms, vowing never to shop there again.

Yes, that would be me. I even called the company up and asked them to close my goaltender account. Guy Raz of All Things Considered asks:

RAZ: You mean, they don’t get into yoga after reading “Atlas Shrugged”?

HOUPT: I have yet to find a yogi who has done so.

The NPR interview is just a view minutes long and worth a listen. The company would not comment on the record about why they decided to do this. If it was to get business, it seems to be backfiring.

What Stress Does Inside & How to Keep Your Cool

Talk of the Nation featured a terrific 24 minute discussion on holiday stress. “Health experts discuss the effects that stress can have on your health, and offer some suggestions for keeping your cool during this frantically festive season.”

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic and from NIH give the best explanation I’ve ever heard that accounts for what happens in the body physically when we are under stress. And they reveal the latest scientific data on how to help temper the adverse effects. The Mayo doctor even has a “Stress Blog” !! And get this, the first caller to the program was a yoga teacher who offers a yogic breathing technique!

Among the suggestion are expected ones – exercise (even just 20 minutes). But others are a bit unusual like how to trick your brain into thinking you’re more in control they you are.

Find out what the doctors thought…..You can listen to the NPR segment here. And check out the Mayo Stress Blog here. Too busy to listen to a 24 minute radio segment right now? Well, also has a 10 minute mindfulness guided meditation you can do right at your desk!