Sunday, January 22, 2012

Can Yoga Wreck Your Body? Responses to NYT Article: Part 2

Here are a couple other links to well-written responses to the NYT article, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.

One is by Eddie Stern (I think) of Ashtanga Yoga New York, How the NYT Can Wreck Yoga .
He does think that the increasing incidence of yoga-related injuries shouldn't be ignored, but he also agrees that the article is unbalanced and sensationalistic.

Eddie writes, "One reason that injury can occur in yoga is due to overzealousness, or even just plain enthusiasm, on the part of the student – I have of course experienced this myself – it is a natural response for a particular type of person when it comes to any activity that has physicality associated with it – no matter what a teacher may caution."

Injuries can occur anytime we do physical activities.  They are more apt to happen in the practice of yoga asanas when the practitioner isn't paying attention to warning signs in his/her body (s/he may not know the warning signs yet, or perhaps is ignoring them to show how well they can do difficult poses without proper preparation).   They are also more apt to happen under the instruction of unskilled yoga teachers.

What I especially like out of his response is the following:
"[Yoga] has been reduced from a practice that traditionally demanded dedication, discipline, sacrifice, humility, surrender, love, devotion, and self-investigation – and yes, suffering through rigorous practice – to something that one can now learn to teach in a weekend. Or, more popularly, in a mere 200 hours you can become a bonafide, registered yoga instructor. 200 hours is spit. It is a joke."

Those of us in the Iyengar Yoga tradition who've gone through the strenuous teacher certification process whole-heartedly agree!

Eddie also includes responses from a couple other people that point out the errors within the "Wreck Your Body" article.   

Another response is by Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher John Schumacher of Unity Woods Yoga Center:
A Response to "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body".
As he calmly points out, "we should remind ourselves that the Times is in the business of selling newspapers",  and what better way to grab attention than to say that what millions of us are doing with our bodies in our efforts to become physically and mentally healthier could actually severely damage us.

Schumacher also points out (as did one of my students last week), that the author of this article has a book coming out (The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards), and what better way to advertise his book than with this attention grabbing article. 

It will be interesting to see if the book is more even-handed than the article, or if it will contain some of the same errors that are in the article.

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