read. this. now.

The Trouble With Yoga.

One of the best pieces I have read about “what’s wrong with yoga.”  Actually, NOTHING is wrong with yoga and I’m damn tired of reading how people quit yoga because they’ve hurt themselves.   Maybe the writer should have read this that I wrote four years ago before she up and quit.

As one of my Facebook friends commented:

“Leaving yoga is apparently the new black. You have to give it to the author for owning up to the fact that she left asana practice because of what amounted to a wounded ego. I’m not against holding teachers accountable. If anything I err on the opposite extreme. But 20 years of practice and you can’t manage modifications without feeling so humiliated that you need to quit and find something else that you can be the “best” at? Better yet, 20 years of practice and you can’t manage to do asana at home on your own? It’s a good thing that she moved into a new practice where even the most competitive mind will have trouble finding an actual gauge to measure itself against others. Running away from uncomfortable feelings is always a missed opportunity. It’s human nature and not always possible for us to counter it. But I would’ve expected more of an acknowledgement of that from someone willing to offer tips on finding what works for you, learning to let go and embracing change.”

And the following quote contains a deep truth.  Like I tell my students, stop doing yoga and be your yoga:

“Another, more serious but more subtle, symptom of our current trouble with yoga is that a large number of people are attending classes for years without developing an authentic, personal relationship to the practice. When I work with such students in my office and ask them to do a foundational asana like Downward Facing Dog or Triangle, there is a pervasive sense of strain, rather than ease and enjoyment. My eyes and hands—my whole embodied sense—tells me that these supposedly intermediate students are arranging their bodies as they think they “should,” rather than experiencing the internal dynamics of the asana for themselves. They imitate rather than inhabit the pose.”

Finally, oh, hell yeah I said in my head:

 “If the yoga community wants yoga teachers who can transmit embodied wisdom to students, it needs to alter its habit of turning out yoga instructors in a weekend or a month. If the yoga community wants to be true to yoga’s premise that the body is and should be a vehicle for liberation, for enlightenment, it needs to stand firm against our tendency to treat the body as less than the mind. “

9 thoughts on “read. this. now.

  1. The studio where I am currently practicing is filled with some of the strongest teachers and students that I have ever encountered. Daily it is humbling and inspirational for me often at the same moment. I would be considered a strong intermediate practitioner in almost any class, but here I often feel that my practice has been ripped wide open and I am left picking up the pieces of what I have been “taught” and sewing them and my ego back together. One of the first classed I went to the owner walked over to me during mountain pose and begin thumping on my sternum in what at the time I took as an aggressive action. I now understand as a Scaravelli inspired practitioner he was trying to get me in touch with my sternum and get my upper body out of my lower back. At the time I didn’t appreciate it, because in reflection, I didn’t understand it. I’m glad that I took the time to reflect and learn from the experience. The deconstruction of previous teachings has changed both my yoga and my thinking.

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    1. sharpenu

      Simply amazing. The whole of so-called “yoga” today is a sham. Real Yoga is Hinduism; taught by Hindus and not for a fee. Do your homework! Divorcing any aspect of Yoga from Hinduism is dishonest and cruel. Slavery lives on!

      Swami Param
      Classical Yoga Hindu Academy

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  2. ” ‘Leaving yoga is apparently the new black. You have to give it to the author for owning up to the fact that she left asana practice because of what amounted to a wounded ego. I’m not against holding teachers accountable. If anything I err on the opposite extreme. But 20 years of practice and you can’t manage modifications without feeling so humiliated that you need to quit and find something else that you can be the “best” at? Better yet, 20 years of practice and you can’t manage to do asana at home on your own? It’s a good thing that she moved into a new practice where even the most competitive mind will have trouble finding an actual gauge to measure itself against others.’ ”

    Pilates mat is almost that practice.

    I have hinted before that my lack of disposable income has kept me, for the post part, self-sufficient in my yoga practice since ten years before I’d started practicing yoga regularly; peaking at nearly $8,000 in debt at one point– of years characterized by constant debt, and having been plagued by repeated years of long-term unemployment had not helped matters.

    Despite moving through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of coming to terms with my situation, namely passing through the stages of Denial ….Anger … Bargaining …. Depression … and finally Acceptance …

    You know, money to burn and too burned out from a high-powered career to have enough mental energy to think for myself … I don’t see that I would not have been in the same shoes. I’d found my 5 Rhythms (dance based spiritually oriented movement) classes populated by a few refugees from yoga–not very far south from my age–who had no yoga self-practice at all …

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    1. Linda-Sama

      sorry, but IMO, Pilates and Yoga are not the same or even close. Pilates is not thousands of years old and does not have a sister science — Ayurveda — attached to it.

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      1. amphibi1yogini

        In the post Anne had written, which is the post on HuffPo; she claims she moved into Tai Chi and Qi Gong. More martial arts oriented. So, those and other movement arts (some of which are modern/American/invented/derived and having actual Western medical or healing sciences attached to them…. ) – and supposed to be “more competitive” than yoga (according to the traditional reputation about yoga) … are actually less — at least in the current climate.

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  3. Gah, everyone who teaches should read your blog Linda! Seriously.

    This is SO true, and I see it all the time. Students arching their back just to try and get their damn heels on the ground in Down Dog, or straining forward in paschimottonasana. Youch! Breathe, close your eyes, feel your way into the pose. This isn’t a military drill, its much more magical.

    Thanks again xx

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