Good morning, yoga peeps! No, I’m not going to say NAMASTE.
Because OH MY GODDESS, GIVE ME STRENGTH TO DEAL WITH THIS MODERN YOGA WORLD.
I just came back from one of my favorite places on Earth and I’m not talking about India. The only reason I returned home was my cat Maggie, NOT because I have to teach yoga. So I am feeling extra ranty this morning.
Two articles came up in my Facebook news feed and of course there’s lots of back and forth and blah blah blah about it.
Y’all might have seen the original article about ethics for yoga teachers, the one that appeared in the New York Times.
This is the one being discussed in my FB feed today: A Code of Ethics for Yoga Teachers – a draft.
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
As a Buddhist, I’ve also taken the Five Precepts. But those AND Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas don’t stop anyone from doing anything if they really want to commit something or take advantage of someone.
We’re talking about INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY, PEOPLE.
Fuck rules or suggesting that LICENSING yoga teachers will help. There are scummy yoga teachers who know the Yamas and Niyamas and still went off the rails. There are Buddhist lamas who slept with their students. There are yoga teachers who don’t know yoga philosophy from a hole in the ground yet they are ethical and smart teachers.
Maybe I’m a total simpleton but I don’t need a set a rules to enforce me to be kind, to have empathy, to not take advantage of someone, to not cheat someone, etc. etc. etc. Too much talk, not enough discernment.
The other article is Yoga can be painful and can lead to injury, study says.
Well, no shit, Sherlock.
“Doctor, my shoulders hurt so much from doing 108 chaturungas in my Power Yoga class every day. What should I do?”
“Don’t do them. Take a rest.”
I’m pretty much over these reductionist articles about yoga including the recent one that Consumer Reports published about how yoga is great for back pain. YAY, everyone jump on the yoga bandwagon because IT’S ALL GOOD!
Yoga IS good for back pain. But depending on the yoga AND the yoga teacher it can also aggravate back pain.
How is “yoga” defined? If a doctor tells someone to “do yoga” where are they going to go? To a local studio where a class is taught by someone just out of a 200 hr training the previous week?
To a local gym or park district fitness center where classes are an hour and there are 30 people in a class?
Or are they going to seek out private one on one yoga with someone with a ton of training and experience who has studied in a therapeutic yoga tradition for 10+ years and knows how to modify asanas/meditation/breathwork for their body and condition?
This is why there must be differentiation between asana only classes and yoga as a vehicle for transformation mind/body/spirit (whatever spirit means to you.) Those categories require different levels of training and have different outcomes.
I’ve always said YOGA is a question of semantics because asana only is not YOGA. Yeah, I said that, deal with it. As I’ve said before, I heard Desikachar say in class, “Yoga contains asana, pranayama, and meditation. Anything else is acrobatics.”
Talk amongst yourselves.