I partly agree with this article. Going to extremes in service to ego or ignorance is stupid. And the extremes that are mentioned are ridiculous. For example, why did a young man sit in vajrasana for "hours a day" and think that he would NOT be injured??!!
The article just talks about "Yoga" but does not define what Yoga is It leaves the reader thinking Yoga and Asana are synonymous. That's a huge omission. That's such limited knowledge that it falls over the fence into ignorance.
Good teachers teach what IS good alignment, and what is NOT. They teach you how to listen to your body. All of us who teach should know anatomy and alignment well. It's our responsibility. If you know basic anatomy and are knowledgeable about alignment and if trust what you know - you will not teach shoulder stand with the chin smashed into the chest because that just does not make sense for the cervical spine.
In part - this article is another "Yoga Hit Job" of which the New York Times has done a few recently. After stating that 20 million people are doing Yoga, it sites 3 or 4 cases of injury. You don't have to be a genius in quantitative research to know that the argument in this article is seriously weak. And yet the tone of the article is such that one might think it is "SCIENTIFIC" and so must be TRUE. Of course the article makes no mention the overwhelming percentage of practitioners for whom Yoga has changed their lives and bodies irrefutably for the better.
Another thing that the article is biased towards is this: it implies that injuries and deterioration will NOT happen if you are not doing Yoga. But you know……people injure themselves hiking, People have strokes having sex. People create repetitive strain injury from swimming, biking, walking, dancing. etc. I have not seen any major articles telling us to stop doing those things.
Part of the problem here is the puere syndrome - the eternally youthful male - or Peter Pan syndrome - which is an attitude we tend to have about our bodies in America. We somehow think that if we are doing everything right we will not age or wear out. People involved in fitness and healthcare often feel morally negligent and embarrassed if they get sick or injured. This is simply nuts. Bodies wear out. People get sick. Hips wear out. We all die at the end of our story.
I've heard Yoga practitioners and "others" - look at older Yoga teachers, whose backs are worn out or whose hips have arthritis and say YOGA DID THAT! When it's a Yoga person making the indictment they will say "bad Yoga did that" (implying that their yoga is more evolved and smart and therefore "good" and will keep their bodies from aging or getting injured) But wait! SO many older people who have never stepped foot inside of a Yoga studio have the same injuries pointed to by the critics of Yoga. LIFE wears bodies out. Your genetics or your Jyotish (astrology) chart may determine how fast or slow that happens.....but happen it will. That's the way it is. bodies wear out just like cars wear out. But when our old car begins to wear out, we don't go into red alert and conclude that we should not have been driving that car. It's just life as it is. Hopefully we have some kind of steady connection to the Mystery which gives rise to cars and bodies and newspaper articles and blog posts.
The real question is - what are you wearing out FOR? I want the alchemy of life to wear me out in the process of making Gold of my spirit. I am quite willing (although I might not enjoy it so much) to sacrifice my back, my teeth .....and eventually everything to that great Work.
This "almost rant" deserves to end with a Bukowski poem.
air and light and time and space
"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
© Charles Bukowski, Black Sparrow Press