Skip to main content

Safety in Yoga

The yoga world (and my facebook newsfeed) exploded a little bit with the release of the New York Times Magazine article dramatically entitled, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body."

Reactions were varied - some cried "Amen!", some felt it had interesting points, and others (mostly teachers) were horrified at the scare-tactic feeling of the article.  Using rather dramatic words like "wreck," focusing more on anecdotal evidence and less on scientific evidence, and most of all, implying that yoga causes more harm than good.

A huge number of responses have since been shared throughout the Internets, and here's my uncharacteristically brief two cents:

Yoga asana (the physical practice of yoga) can potentially cause injury.  Yoga asana can potentially aid in the rehabilitation of an injury.

Some yoga teachers can be careless, either by not checking in with their students to see what injuries they may be dealing with or by placing too much importance on their students going "deeper" into a pose when it may not be good for them.  Some yoga teachers are phenomenal at tailoring each class to the specific students they have in front of them, offering copious options for each fitness level, and creating a safe space in their class.

Some students are overzealous, may push themselves too hard, or won't share with their teachers an injury out of shyness or ego.  Some students check their ego at the door, taking care that they don't place more importance on the poses than on their physical capacities.

In yoga, like in any other activity anywhere, accidents happen.  There are good teachers and not so good, mindful students and not so mindful students.  Realistically, we all have a bit of both in us.

What's crucial to remember is that one of the integral elements of a yoga practice is ahimsa - non-harming.  It's up to each individual who has chosen to practice yoga, however they practice it and for whatever reason, to respect and protect their bodies as part of that practice.  Otherwise, is it even really yoga?

During my Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, my wonderful teacher started the training by telling us she wasn't going to give us a list of poses to do and not do for pregnant women.   You can't generalize any segment of the population with a list of do's and don'ts.  The key to being a good teacher, she said, is to teach to the students you have in front of you.  Cater to them in all their unique needs and levels.  It makes you a true teacher, then, and not just someone parroting a sequence they've learned.

This seemingly obvious but absolutely necessary advice is something that can be applied to every class, every teacher, every student.  Work with what you have, not with what you wish you had.  Be mindful, be present, be safe.  That's yoga.


Popular posts from this blog

The Magic of Brain Gym

I cannot believe I haven't blogged about Brain Gym yet!  That is absolutely bananas, and also sort of great because after a few years of incorporating the little bits and pieces I learned from Shari (founder & director of Karma Kids Yoga and the only boss I've ever had with whom I've also done crazy things like the pose on the right, which she named "fart neck"), I finally took the "Brain Gym 101" course this past weekend to learn more in depth about the what's and wherefore's.

Brain Gym is a lot of things, but what it is primarily is a way to facilitate better learning through movement.  Although it started in the field of education and helping children learn better, everyone can benefit from it.  You may be reading and writing just fine, but do you have a situation where you struggle to communicate your needs clearly to a partner, a friend, a co-worker?  Do you struggle with random bouts of unexplained anxiety that you struggle to release…

Home is Where the Heart is

One of the most cloyingly saccharine cliches of all time?  Yes.  True?  Also yes.  Sort of.

It's been an incredibly eventful three weeks.  At the end of June, my sister underwent major abdominal surgery to repair a major diastasis caused by two back-to-back large pregnancies.  On that same day Marc and I headed up on the Megabus to Massachusetts for a fun long July 4th weekend of family (including our two delicious little LeVasseur nephews!), wine, fun, and going through endless boxes of nostalgia from his childhood as his parents prepare to put their gorgeous house on the market.  The baby pictures!  The metric tons of books! The middle school poetry!  Oh, the earnest and terrible middle school poetry...

Then last weekend, I flew to SC for a whirlwind celebration of the twins' third birthday with family (third!!!), helping out my sister, who is recovering beautifully in every sense of the word.  Just shy of three days of nonstop work, play, and extreme highs and lows of overs…

Health Scare

I had a whole draft of a blog in my head all made up, but it has been a day.  And now that I've come down from all the life-stuff of the day, I'm left to ponder with a growing, nauseating dread what 217 elected representatives voted for today.

Forgive the pun-y and ridiculous title.  I'm just so afraid that this is our country now.

In case you're wondering who voted how, check out this helpful page in the NYTimes.

Listen - we all know Obamacare wasn't perfect.  But I know several people who would literally not be alive today without it.  I wouldn't have health insurance without it - and you better believe I use my health insurance.

Instead of having a group of adults who can intelligently discuss policy and talk about improving our health care system, we have a group of children who stick their fingers in their ears and simply shout about destroying any bit of legacy President Obama may have had.  They've denigrated this so deeply that there are literally p…