It’s been a week since “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” appeared in the NY Times and the rants, ruminations and revelations are still pouring onto the virtual pages of elephant. My personal response—“How to Prevent (or Minimize) Yoga Injuries”—will appear shortly. Meanwhile, I thought you’d enjoy seeing a more irreverent take on the subject from novelist Sarah Miller that crossed my Facebook feed. A day without LYAO (laughing your asana off) can wreck your spirit. Enjoy!
This article originally appeared Jan. 11, 2012, on theawl.com, a New York City-based web site devoted to culture and politics. Thanks, awl and Sarah Miller for injecting a healthy dose of comic relief into the mix!
That New York Times Magazine‘s article on the dangers of yoga has made a lot of people mad. It didn’t really make me mad—I do too much yoga to get mad, though I do still sniff disdainfully—but I did want to address why many of the arguments in it are totally lame.
1. The Times‘ health coverage often gives way to local news-flavored hysteria. You can’t expect the Sort of People Who Tend to Read The Times to freak out about Amber Alerts and Child Molesters. The readership simply isn’t concerned with anything that has no direct effect on them, unless that thing is cool (design), epic in scale (Nicholas Kristof) or risible (Tom Friedman). About the only thing that will get upper-middle-class coast dwellers into a frenzy is the idea—the word ‘fact’ is so black and white, n’est-ce pas?—that Some Day They Are Going To Fucking Die. Like to exercise a lot? That might MAKE YOU DIE. Do you just like to walk leisurely? Is that what you enjoy? Too bad for you, because if you don’t get your heart rate to 96 percent capacity, fourteen minutes a day, eight times in a 15-day cycle, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. Guess what else? If you don’t have hot sex enough with someone who also loves you and pays your bills and who has the same values as you (good luck with that one!), your brain will stop secreting a certain hormone and you WILL DIE. If you do not make this beet green pasta dish like Mark Bittman made and get this special trace mineral found in beet greens that’s the only thing that feeds your liver oxygen, YOU ARE ALSO GOING TO DIE. This yoga article—actually, an excerpt from a book by Times reporter William J. Broad—is in this tradition. It finds subjects with genuine, perfectly reasonable things to say and a few suspect anecdotes and by the time a little Science (said in Thomas Dolby voice) is thrown in (some of this science is from 1972!) everyone has run away screaming at the top of their lungs: “Yoga, noooo! I’d be better off smoking crack and turning tricks outside Benito’s.”
2. Yes, you can get injured doing yoga…for the rest, click over to theawl.com.
Sarah Miller is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl, which are for teens but adults can read on the beach. She lives in Nevada City, CA.