Monday, January 23, 2012

YOGA: What do You Think about the "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" Article?

What do You Think about the
Do you have an opinion about the New York Times article,
"How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” published on January 5, 2012
I love the article because it has gotten many people discussing the injury potential that comes from attending classes lead by inexperience or careless instructors. I think the title was brilliant because it made people LOOK, and read. It was an intelligent move to get more people to read the article since anyone who would like to write-off yoga due to a bad experience or injury stemming from yoga would have most likely passed on reading an article with a “positive” headline.
Hopefully after reading the article, anyone who had a negative experience with yoga may become interested in trying yoga again, armed with a little more information on how to find a decent instructor and to become more connected with themselves by listening to their body.
Sadly, not every Yoga teacher is like Black. All but one of my clients that came to me with shoulder, lower back, wrist, and hip issues due to yoga were those who had been taking Bikram classes. There were several Bikram studios near where I trained my clients. Some of the studios had fairly knowledgeable instructors; however there were many teachers who had no other background with yoga, human anatomy, or injury prevention. Many had no other knowledge or certifications other than what their Bikram certification offered.
Many first time participants of yoga trust that an instructor has the experience and knowledge to considerately conduct/"teach"/guide a class, and assume the instructor knows how to identify and address the physical limitations/history of activity/lifestyle of the participants in attendance.
The type of clientele the Bikram reputation tends to attract are high-intensity, hard working people who come from the no-pain-no-gain mind set, trying to “find” yoga and bring some balance and clam into their lives. There are also a large number of people who have a tendency towards self abusive behavior that gravitate to such classes in hopes to cure or cleanse themselves of such behavior. It is especially important with these demographics that there be a well trained, confident, and considerate instructor available to help guide such participants to embrace the benefits of a thoughtful and physically and emotionally empowering practice.
The mixture of an over-heated room and a person with an intense and competitive mindset can set a person up to go beyond their limitations.
It takes an attentive and confident instructor to help guide these participants in the right direction. A considerate and knowledgeable instructor is not always easy to find. Many of the best Bikram teachers hold several other certifications and continue to practice with other teachers and take classes at different facilities in order to continue their education and inspire themselves in order to inspire and educate anyone who comes to their classes. J
Another factor to take into account when trying to minimize the risk of injury to participants in a yoga class is the instructor’s ability to make corrections.
Some participants do NOT want to be corrected, guided, or addressed, even if what they choose to do in class is potentially injurious. Unfortunately, these participants limit a considerate yoga instructor’s ability to minimize the risk of injury for fear of complaints and even law suits.
Thank goodness I teach privately, which gives me the power to excuse anyone from class if they refuse to practice safely-within their bodies limitations and only progressing when appropriate. I will NOT let anyone injury themselves on my time, they are free to do that elsewhere, since there are many facilities that have instructors that are happy to ignore technique and good judgment.
I would love to hear your opinion on the article, and how you ensure your own safety while participating in yoga classes, or how you ensure the safety of your clients when leading a class.

Wishing y'all a Happy, Healthy, and Injury-Free Day!

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