The New York Times had a very discouraging article on Yoga a few days ago. It’s a good article. If you’re looking for excuses NOT to start doing Yoga this year, you’ll find plenty.
Unfortunately this photo isn’t the joke it’s meant to be. I often see poses like that in Yoga classes, and am surprised that severe injuries aren’t happening more often.
Answers to the NYT article popped up everywhere: you can read Josh Schrei’s post in Elephant Journal as an example. I like his perspective and insight, but he’s missing the point.
People don’t start Yoga because they want to be heroes like Josh.
They want to get rid of their chronic pain, they want to be more flexible, they want to lose weight–or they just want to find a way to deal with stress. After a first class they feel inadequate, are hurting more, and give up.
We have several Yoga studios in Orlando that are perpetuating the problem. Teachers are arrogant, some even yell at students, or they completely ignore the newbies. Even in so-called “beginners classes” people are pushed to do more than they really can.
It’s not rare to see positions like upward facing dog in beginner’s Yoga. Look at the woman in the yellow shirt: she’s wrecking her low back at about L2-L4, the one with the legwarmers is putting a lot of stress on L5-S1.
Let them do that for 15 years and I’m sure they’ll be in trouble.
(I don’t know these people, but I’ve paid istockphoto to use the pic)
Now imagine you’re 57 years old, out of shape, and you’ve read about the health benefits Yoga offers. Somewhere in your mind is the idea that Yoga is gentle and relaxing. Then you end up in the class shown in the picture. Not only is your back hurting afterwards, you also feel fat and depressed.
I’m ok with Yoga being more and more a workout taught in gyms. All I’m asking is that people know what they’re signing up for. Experienced Yogis can drop into any class and modify it for their needs–beginners need a lot of specific instruction.
In Candice’s classes we’re a very diverse group. Some are over 70, some under 30. One of the old ladies is topfit (I want to be her when I grow up), some of the younger ones are overweight.
We all get great strength and cardio training, gain flexibility and learn to calm our minds. Nobody feels inadequate or left out, nobody gets bored. It’s the beauty of Yoga that even if you only do simple poses, you can deepen them as you wish. And with a teacher like Candice you learn how.