My response to “How yoga can wreck your body” from the New York Times published january 5,2012

Posted by on Jan 14, 2012 in Articles | 1 comment

As for me the reason of millions of people are practicing yoga is that give them a real sense of freedom, a great mind, body and soul opener. It’s foolish to believe our mind is miles away from our body. To practice Asanas ( postures) cultivates our awareness such a unknown sensations until now come up. As we practice we open successive doors, we are each time in different feelings, emotions…

But the most important is not to forget, Yoga is NOT only Asanas , that most of us can do easily even sometimes to turn ourselves into a pretzel, Yoga is before asanas, Yoga is stretching our mind , brings our attention towards ourselves our body our mind then towards others. Yoga is ancient sapience giving access to a new way of life more healthy more compassionate, more peaceful, more happy. Yoga blends together our body, our breath our mental . Asanas is only a  part of Yoga. I invite you to read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to see the real dimension of Yoga involving the world around of us.

Now let me talking about Injuries in Yoga. First of all do not incriminate Yoga !!!

First point : when you decide to drop in your first class chose the kind of school most suitable for you for your expectations ( even I suggest you to not have any to be aware of your body and mind sensations). Some styles of yoga are more vigorous disposed to injure yourself if your body is not ready for.

Second point : the teacher, some a more aggressive than others pushing on your body without any knowledge about anatomy, or classes are too crowded to notice your poor alignment, or he or she goes to a class to another without care

Third point : You, the student : most of you want to perform each asana in a perfect way, you want to perform it in a snap, looking around if the teacher a looking at you , or you compete with others students in the room.

 

I am a teacher now and I was a student ( of course I still one until the end of my yogini life) , completely new in yoga, I remembered the delicious young scarcely clad lady close to me looking at me with a big smile when she was performing a split so easily when I was barely capable to do the half pose, my first reaction has been deep down inside of me to feel like killing her condescending smile and above all the teacher mocked me in front of the others my lack of flexibility, it was an humiliation, of course looking back I had just to accept my limitations, do not care of the teacher , and just to have any more class with him, period!!

So as a student you have a responsibility and the great one in front of your injuries and to not create more.  Most of your injuries come from your behavior toward yourself!!! Let me explain to you :

First of all, we don’t need to be perfect , it’s about working with our own body at our own level. Do not force your body into a pose for which is not ready for, that means do not look around the class the others, listen to your teacher giving you information how to come in the pose safely, listen to your inner voice, do not push yourself, take time to come in and out off the posture , do not compare your pose withe the one of your “matmate”, each body is different with different range of motion, different proportions, different feelings, sensing, maybe behind the big smile of your “matmate” he or she is struggle over to give up because she or he wants to keep up appearances, it’s always our ego to impress others and ourselves, we refuse to admit our limitations, who we are.

Don’t worry all of us even the best teachers, the famous ones have made all of the mistakes.

I have a beautiful students, always keen to practice every day, most of them they cannot perform the “classic” poses, it can take may years of practice to built strength, flexibility and body awareness. Every day I remind them this basic wisdom, to not push themselves.
They are many options for each pose , it’s my duty  to remind them to explain how to practice safely and as each body is different each option is not suitable for all, it’s a non aggressive application, we take time sometimes for only one pose to explain how their body works and why they must need to step aside for a while if their body is not ready for, is not to give up it’s just to find a safety option . Yes I agree maybe for you is not fun , but believe me to have injury is worse is not fun at all and can take years to fully heal!!!

Even I have the same students almost every day in a group ( or private class) , I have always one or more trying to impress me or others, so I remind them to forget any sense of competitiveness that often leads to injuries.

I suggest you as well if your are new to yoga to arrive 10 or 15 minutes before the class introducing yourself to precise if you have any recent injury or issues that ask for a special care, ( normally the teacher must ask you at the first met).

I remember so well my first class, I remember asking them about their background, a minor and major health issues such as High blood pressure, because the average age was around 50, and all of them told me we feel very well and fit … But during the class a woman became pallid during standing postures and felt dizzy, finally she admitted to have a high blood pressure and she had forgotten her medicine and besides she ate before the class!!

Most of students refuse to face their weaknesses, to have a weakness it looks like a sin, wrong!!! You must face who you are to grow up in your practice, to built your awareness.

I observe in my class when young students are in majority, the oldest ones want to prove their ability , they cannot resist to compare , they refuse to accept their limitations or when their are more at ease than the youngest, they have the smile telling them ” look at me, even my age I am better than you!!” that could be funny if behind this behavior nothing wrong happens such a injury because of sense of self-pride, so each day each class I remind them to forget to compete to listen to themselves, their own body…

So please do not blame Yoga! do not blame Asanas!, do not blame the teacher! ( you must change right away you have a plenty of teachers, plenty of yoga styles, find the most suitable for you), change you behavior, it will be the best gift you’ve ever gave you, release any competition with anyone or anything else including yourself, reflect how you could be more kind to yourself during your practice, you cannot fail or be horrible at yoga so it’s better to let this thought go as soon as possible!
Do not be in a hurry to get into or out of the poses.

Yoga is not about wrapping your legs around your neck or aching your back into the most beautiful back bends, it’s about using your body this marvellous instrument with joy, love compassion, do not forget underneath your skin it’s complex network of muscles, ligaments tendons, bones, organs, arteries, veins… do not overuse and abuse it, is not a car, you cannot change a spare part.

Whatsoever the reason you chose to practice yoga , do not perform poses you are not ready for, for just because other people in the room are doing, drop in the class with your ego seated in the locker and just remember yoga is a spiritual activity in a physical form, so focus on your sensations, make peace with yourself, quiet your mind, focus on your breath to settle down the fluctuations of your mental.

Yoga is much more than asanas, is breath, is spirituality, meditation,  is love, is Life

So enjoy your practice, Enjoy Yoga

Namaste

1 Comment

  1. Very good basic instructions, explained in good sequence while also touching on underlying principles of yoga as a healing practice, i.e. work the whole body first, even to treat isolated areas, learn the actions of basic poses and refine later. Christine is obviously a long time practitioner and teacher with a deep understanding of the practice of yoga.

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