November 3, 2009

Man sues teacher at Yoga Studio for “unwanted adjustment.”

Will the venerable Yoga Workshop be forced to cease adjustments? Will your favorite studio?

This blog is based on the report of The Daily Camera, Boulder’s paper of record. Link to article and excerpt below. It is intended solely to be a support for our yoga community friends.

Not if the great yoga teacher in question has a lawyer worth anything, and community support. This lawsuit is ridiculous—and, if successful, would represent a stultifying, dangerous precedent for yoga studios throughout the US.

We could write a lengthy explanation about how adjustments are key to yoga practice, that’s why you have a teacher, and how if you don’t get them serious injuries will result much more often, and about how we’ve known Luke since the mid-90s and know he knows his stuff, he’s gentle, and about how Luke probably doesn’t have any money, so this is just ridiculous, and about how this is the seventh sign of hell…a man is suing a yoga studio for an injury that, he claims, is the result of an unwanted adjustment.

But, that’d all be reallllly obvious. Really. It’s like suing a swimming pool for getting water in your mouth, or a park for offering you a mountain bike trail that you fell on, or suing the sky for snowing on a tree that then fell on your car.

So, we’ll just offer this one, simple, direct assessment: “Ridiculous.” This is serious stuff. This could put one of America’s truly great, original yoga studios out of business. This could ruin a great young teacher’s life, and career. Adjustments are part of what yoga class is about. You want them. Injuries happen. Adjustments are suggestions, at most. Optional. As I’ve been told a thousand times—in the Yoga Workshop, where I practice—yoga is not about pain. If you feel pain, stop.

This is why I love the Yoga Workshop, so—ironically: they’re all about proper alignment, which is the only thing that, long term, prevents injuries. You could practice in a great fun hot yoga studio and get all bendy thanks to the hotness but if you don’t have proper alignment, well, after 10 years or less or more you’ll break down. Yoga is dangerous. All physical activities are.

This man is out to make a buck. He may succeed in doing so. But at least Luke, and the Yoga Workshop, will be able to live with themselves.

With thanks to our friend E. for the heads up, and the Daily Camera for the following excerpt (click link at end for full story over at the Camera):

Man sues Boulder yoga studio over unwanted adjustment

Lawsuit: ‘Unsolicited physical manipulation’ caused permanent disability

By Vanessa Miller Camera Staff Writer

Posted: 11/02/2009 06:52:35 PM MST

A California man who used to live in Boulder is suing a local yoga studio for injuries he claims he suffered when an instructor “unexpectedly and without permission” adjusted his yoga position.

According to a lawsuit that Robert Heit, now of Santa Rosa, Calif., recently filed against the Boulder-based Yoga Workshop, instructor Luke Iwabuchi’s “unsolicited physical manipulation” caused injuries that resulted in a permanent disability…

…for the rest, go to the Daily Camera article.

Luke’s bio, from Yogaworkshop.com (he couldn’t be a gentler, more aware gent)

Luke Iwabuchi

Luke Iwabuchi’s yoga practice began in 1997, out of his commitment to Zen meditation. After rigorous tai chi training, he dove into sitting meditation, being lay ordained in the Soto Zen lineage with Ryushin Paul Haller and receiving bodhisattva vows with the Nyingma lama, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.

He has completed four of Richard’s Teacher Intensives and has participated as a student, assistant and teacher at the Yoga Workshop, since 2001.

Luke’s teaching style is gentle, warm, and inquisitive and it is informed by the Ashtanga and Iyengar traditions. He is strongly influenced and inspired by Richard, Rodney Yee, and the Yoga Workshop community.  Luke is dedicated to inter-faith dialogue, the social engagement of diversity and sustainability, and the joyful discipline of sitting meditation.  He describes himself as a calm, swift Manhattan driver.  Luke enjoys tinkling on the piano, cooking and learning languages.

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