The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

My Photo
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Ouch Behind Om recently ran a piece on yoga titled 'When Yoga Hurts'. The writer reports that the number of Americans practicing yoga has shot up 136% since 2000 to 14 million. Of that numeber 13,000 have been treated in an emergency room or a doctor's office for yoga-related injuries in the past three years.

Scary? You bet. But many people who walk into a yoga class don't realise that. I've had people, upon finding out that I'm an instructor, say that they want to sign up for classes because:

"I was a gymnast/ballerina/circus act about a hundred years ago, so yoga should be really easy."
"I REALLY need to stretch my muscles."
"I don't exercise at all and yoga looks like it doesn't need much physical fitness."
"I want to challenge myself."

Despite my warnings of the risks of practicing yoga for these sole intents and ambitions, they refuse to budge. So I refuse to take them on as students. When I first started teaching, I accepted them all and learnt the hard way that there's only so much influence you can have over someone else's mind and body. Now, I refuse to have their self-inflicted injuries clinging to my conscience.

The writer goes on to say;

"Often people get hurt because they assume that yoga is simple and that anybody can pretzel himself or herself on demand. Edward Toriello, an orthopedic surgeon and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, says most of the injuries he sees are sustained by "weekend warrior" baby boomers who begin yoga without realizing that their bodies are no longer what they used to be. "They think that yoga is an easy way to start exercising, so they go to class once a week, not stretched out at all, and they get hurt."

But she doesn't ladle all the responsibility on the students.

"Part of the problem is that increasingly, the people teaching yoga don't know enough about it. Yoga was traditionally taught one-on-one by a yogi over a period of years, but today instructors can lead a class after just a weekend course. Though the Yoga Alliance, formed in 1999 and now based in Clinton, Md., has set a minimum standard of 200 hours of training for certification, only 16,168 of the estimated 70,000 instructors in the U.S. have been certified. "Yoga means bringing together mind, body and spirit, but in Western yoga, we've distilled it down to body," says Shana Meyerson, an instructor in Los Angeles. "That's not even yoga anymore. If the goal is to look like Madonna, you're better off running or spinning."

So tell me, why do you practice yoga?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starlight-can you believe, I have gotten injured twice lately, during this time I have not been practising yoga. I have been off practice now for a few months because of personal commitments and I strained my neck few weeks back and yesterday I miracalously sprained my ankle.
I am hoping to get back to yoga after these sprains settle, but I am guessing the stresses in life lately has caused these injuries, not yoga. Personally when you do yoga, you need to be really in tune with your body and listen to it. Then you know what you can and what you can't do.

5:56 PM  
Blogger starlight said...

oh no. poor you. hope you recover soon. and don't do shoulderstand, plough, bridge or fish in the meantime ok. be gentle with the ankle too. i sprained my ankle seven years ago and it still sends me a reminder when i do triangle or hero.

and you're right. you need to listen to your body. but often times, the voice of the ego is so much louder. :)

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blimey-shoulderstand, plough and fish are my fav positions..........but thanks for the advise, will stay away for now.

6:03 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home