After participating in a recent Wanderlust celebration of yoga, I was inspired by what one of the facilitating instructors said as she taught. "There is no obligation on the mat." This simple sentence when taken to heart will help us all practice within our own safe boundaries.
i have been sidelined for a bit due to an inflamed elbow - a stress injury from my yoga. yes, i am new-ish to yoga, and just like went i was new to running; i learn from my errors!
I did yoga as a teenager (70s). Our teacher had us rise from the lotus position (cross legged) by leg-muscles only - no hands. Envision a person standing up from cross legged position w/o uncrossing the legs - just pushing it all up from the legs, putting enormous pressure on the KNEE joint.
Some years later, I developed a condition where my knee physically "locks." Turns out it's not the knee but rather a dislocation of the fibular head, likely due to hyperextension. Exactly what you would expect from using crossed legs to push up from lotus position hundreds of times. There is no surgical cure. It's very painful when it locks, and takes forever to unlock.
Great article; people, not only students but teachers in a great majority, have forgotten that one size doesn't fit all and that each individual practise to their own capacity and limitations. If I see a difficult pose in a magazine or in the studio, that doesn't mean I want to do it. I often see people driving at 120ph, does that mean I'm going to do it? no, it is my choice to go as far as my body allows it. However, when you have teachers that keep quoting other teachers as "this is what so and so said in their book or in their workshop, therefore is how you have to do it", then we have a huge problem . Teachers are to guide and help students practise in a safe way not to get them to "show off" or to compete; students have to listen to their bodies and follow the message that is giving them. it is time we all take responsibility.
@javajunkie, I have the opposite reaction. I am intimidated by the average YJ cover and retreat into a more beginner stance with my yoga. Aside from power yoga and gym yoga teachers, who are a breed apart and offer primarily a workout, even in a small class, don't you think this has frustrated some of my yoga teachers?
An excellent article. A good reminder to all who practice or teach yoga that ahimsa must be our guiding principle!
Sometimes I wonder how much harm Yoga Journal does just by putting on the cover and through out the magazine outrageously difficult and twisted poses. Then it tells us to respect and listen to our body. But it seems to me like a magazine that pretends to affirm bodies of all shapes and sizes, "real women," but then all it shows are women who wear size 0. We get likewise conflicting messages in Yoga Journal. After looking through your poses, no wonder if I feel like a wimp when I dont do likewise, and push myself too far. Take for instance the more recent magazine with the pink cover and the lady doing the backbend. Really, now?
A very timely article. We are luckly to be injury free as we have in the past attempted to push the boundaries. No more though as we wish to continue to enjoy the full benefits of our yoga. It is a wonderful journey to be savored. Thank you for the caution.
i have been doing bikram yoga for 6 years and recently i hurt my left hip very badly during the class. I had to leave the class because i was in so much pain after like the 3rd pose.
i have not gone back.
This article seems very appropriate as just last week my father the skeptic was telling me how he read an article on how people can "overdo" yoga. I started practicing yoga in mid May and I absolutely love it, Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, Hot and Power Vinyasa are some of the ones I vary within my practice. I am one of those extremist that did push too hard my first week and pulled my hamstring (at the insertion) which is still giving me some trouble. I am acutely aware it was my ego that made me try to do the splits 20 years later. Each time I move into a forward bend and I feel that extra excitement in my hamstring I am quickly attuned into my current practice rather than that of my gymnastics practice from my early teens.