Article in the NYT …on
and some reflections on this:
“Yoga is there for YOU, not for Your EGO…
Unfortunately now and especially with Yoga having become such a hype !- teachers as well as the practitioners scramble this easy rule up, with the result indeed : injuries and damage for the body.
In my opinion it’s more interesting (and more healthy!) to practice with intelligent and individual guidance. That involves the development of Selfknowledge on a physical, but -even more important on a psychologogical and emotional level: to distinguish and recognize when the practice is driven by EGO….
And we all have EGO’s!
More or less pumped up, be it the size of a elefant or a mouse metaphorically speaking, and the size might change also in relation to whom we are interacting with.
It’s part of being human.
Crucial is to learn to detect and distinguish when an action is motivated by Ego – and again in regard to Yoga to choose or change your attitude in practice.
and not to be – in the case of Yoga – a slave to the Asana!
My definition of a healthy practice technique (and that is for Yoga, Pilates, Dance or Sports) is that Technique is Applied Awareness in Action.
Practically speaking that means to have solid technical foundation of the basics, regular practice under experienced guidance before attempting to more “advanced” Asana’s like Sirsasana (Head Balance) and other inversions.
I agree totally with Black’s view that it’s a dance to recognize in each one what’s healthy and what not!
It involves layers of responsibility…
For the teacher:
To have the experience, the knowledge -and the compassion to guide a practitioner and support them wherever they are at, recognizing and respecting the student’s capabilities and limitations.
For the practitioner:
To know when to do and when not to do a certain move. To be honest and open with yourself and neither be blinded by shere ambition (ego!) or shying away with bloody excuses…
To have the trust to listen to the advice of the teacher.
The examples quoted in the article of B.K.S. Iyengar on Hyperextension of the neck in case of Halasana (Plowpose) are terribly rigid and quoted like that out of context for sure not healthy.
That does not take away that Iyengar practice in general is a solid and reliable foundation for a Yoga practice (otherwise it would not have become so popular around the world!).
I also totally agree that Yoga is not the Cure for everything.
I am happy that Yoga has become so popular, it’s a chance to grow self knowledge, tackle “ego constipation” and when done in a healthy way (!) grow old with grace.
Yoga and Pilates are excellent to complement for instance a vigorous sports Practice (like Tennis, Football, or Hockey, where fast movements – sprint and stop – sometimes repetitive movements (Tennis) cause one sided strain and injury on the body when done excessively.
Then indivually designed Yoga or Pilates practice can be extremly beneficial to counterbalance and heal these effects – Or even better: prevent them from happening!
There are so many different forms of Yoga (Yin, Restorative, Therapeutic Yoga, Vijnana Yoga etc pp) that by all means it need not be only Ashtanga or Iyengar.
All those styles have their strengths!
I recommend each person who’d like to practice Yoga to figure out for himself what suits him or her best for their body, age and life style. That requires curiosity and time to invest into different styles and get to know what is for you.
Or if they indeed do not do Yoga at all but go running , or walking or dancing or swimming or making love! – with the pleasure of enjoying life.
Or do Yoga and do some of the above….
And that’s why we need knowledgeable and wise teachers to guide them in that jungle!”