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February 6, 2012

You can’t wreck your body if you’re practicing Yoga!

Members of the Broadway cast do their flexible best...from NY Times Magazine

Lately, I’ve spend quite some time chatting with my peers and my students about the New York Times article “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.”

One of the senior science writers at The Times wrote about occurrence of injuries in yoga. There were a lot of good points, but it was a bit slim and incorrect on certain facts.

Nonetheless, it created a lot of controversy. I personally think this article was very timely. A lot of yoga teachers have started questioning what they teach, much as practitioners question what they are practicing. I received a newsletter from one of the New York yoga schools saying that they added breathing and meditation to their classes and that I should feel safe practicing. Nice! But why didn’t they call their classes “Physical Exercise” before?

Asana Practice – Posture

The article is discusses Asana. As Leslie Kaminoff suggested in his video: 

It could’ve been called “Asana practice”, but it is only part of a yoga practice and not the complete picture. From an economic prospective, it is about supply and demand. Students want instant solutions, quick fixes, and immediate gratification. The common notion in the yoga community is to come to class, to sweat for an hour and a half or so, and go home and pass out. We are not willing to become aware and make our own educated decisions, to stop, to question, to listen, to do less. Most of the students are not qualified to do 10 sun salutations, chaturangas, or deep back or forward bends, not to mention inversions, although these practices could be beneficial to healthy and athletic folk. Strong “yoga asana” transforms a saphead  into a stronger saphead  – there is no room for transformation.  In fact, any physical movement without awareness will cause injury, especially if it includes repetitive movement.

What is yoga?

The practice of Yoga consists of many layers and is deeply rooted in philosophy. To simplify, Yoga is a method for quieting your mind so that you can be more focused on the present, i.e. have a better relationship with yourself and the world. To get to this level of awareness, you need to practice breathing, meditation, and the appropriate asana practice, study the texts, and more. if you do all of this, you will never get injured practicing yoga since it cultivates self-knowledge and understanding.

To practice or not to practice?

Q. Is yoga good for you?

a. Yes b. No c. It Depends

You are the only person who can answer this question. Whether you are rolling out your mat for the first time or you are an avid practitioner, pause to ask yourself what you are doing and become aware. Do your research, ask questions, and find a teacher and a studio you really like. As for me, I love yoga. After all, it has completely transformed my life and is helping me on daily basis.

I hope you will choose to practice and will stay safe when you do.

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