Since the beginning of the year, there’s been several articles questioning the safety of yoga for most people. And while the headlines (and ensuing outrage) has done a lot to garner attention, what has been interesting for me personally is that it not till now that we’re finally having THAT conversation. For too long (in my humble opinion) there seemed to be a cavalier attitude about doing extreme yoga poses since popular opinion deemed yoga as something good for you. But like in all body movement, there are inherent risks. By virtue of the amount of ways that you move and different body parts that you use in yoga, the risks becomes greater to hurt yourself if you are doing something incorrectly and at times, even if you are doing it correctly and it is not right for your body.
So whether you’re doing Pilates, Yoga, or any other physically demanding physical activity, you have to deal within the laws of physics and gravity — and no amount of Ohmmming will save you if you disregard that basic truth.
Traditionally, like Pilates, Yoga was taught primarily one on one from teacher to student before hitting Western shores. And very early on to it’s exposure in the States, a student would have to commit to rigorous course of study with a teacher of a span of time. In the case with yoga, this not only included the postures, which consists only a small part of the study of yoga, but also breath work, self-study, meditation, a code of conduct all described within the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Though this particular way of study wasn’t foolproof, having a personlized approach within the teacher-student relationship help the student receive corrections and information that was appropriate to their way of learning. Even within the secular practice of Pilates, Joseph Pilates would only take on students that could commit to seeing him three times a week while he training them. It was a way of insuring that bad habits didn’t creep into your practice and it helped create a sense of discipline in how you approached the work. This is true in Pilates and in Yoga. It was discipline infused and informed with personal responsibility.
So what’s a person to do? Sign themselves into an ashram? Only work out one on one whenever they do Pilates or Yoga? It’s an option. But it really isn’t the only option. I am a big believer in working one on one at least occasionally to an objective eye looking my form and pointing out what I need to be focusing on in your practice. Even after years of studying and teaching many forms of movement, it’s something that I practice myself and continue to find serves me. But if this isn’t an option, you must invest in finding out more about your body — where you are weak, where you hold a lot of tension, what leg to you stand on more. This will inform how you make your way into any practice bring you to a deeper awareness of your tendencies. Awareness, while it can’t guarantee that you’ll be safe from any injuries for the lifetime of your practice, it will keep you more often than not off the injured list.
So my personal mission is to bring you the tools, suggestions, articles that you need to help you be more aware and educated in your body. Even if you can’t make to a class or lesson. So let me know what are you thinking. What are the questions you have about your body and your practice?