Saturday, January 14, 2012

The New York Times Hates Yoga



Actually, that isn't true. The New York Times is a corporation, not a person. So how could it hate anything really.

Anyway, the North American yoga world has been a buzz over a recent New York Times article that isn't terribly flattering to yogaland. It's one of those pieces where intelligent points are swimming in a sea of muckraking and designed drama production. It's true that asana practice can lead to injuries if done without attention and care. Furthermore, it's also true that there are too many poorly trained teachers out there who are treating yoga like the perfect power fitness routine, one that couldn't possibly, in their minds, have any precautions.

However, to move from there to suggesting that "many people" are basically risking potentially life-changing injuries every time they practice is ridiculous. The article cites an increased number of yoga-related injuries appearing in emergency rooms, and all I can think of is how yoga's popularity has exploded over the last decade. In other words, it's no surprise at all that there are more injuries. Frankly, moving your body in everyday activities is risky. Picking up a heavy box without considering the alignment of your body is risky. Swinging a tennis racket hard for the first time after a long layoff is risky. To often, this article read like the mind of a person who believes airplane travel is more dangerous than driving, never mind that far, far more people are injured or killed in car accidents annually.

Let's face it, though. A more accurate, balanced article about yoga injuries just wouldn't have been that hot and controversial. That's what makes the big bucks most of the time. At the same time, there has been some good discussion stirred up around the issues in the article. Here's a taste of the online discussions.

9 comments:

Mumon said...

Nathan,
Yeah, as I said it the rational gist of the article could be boiled down to two sentences, or even 3 words: "Don't over do it."

Yeah...

Mumon said...

Although that's 4 words the way I wrote it.

Good thing I practice something that's not on their radar (on the other hand, since the movies about Ip Man, guys like my sifu have been inundated with newcomers...shh! Don't tell them...even though they no doubt monitor our blogs for exactly this kind of feedback... :-)

Robyn said...

My theory is that someone at the NY Times has a real bee in their bonnet about yoga. They publish something about yoga almost every single week and it is often negative. I distinctly remember one article about yoga that began, "Zen is very expensive." It was about how you had to have a good mat, Lululemon clothing and take classes at pricey centers. Errr....no.
And yoga isn't Zen, btw.

But whatever. Did that article put anyone off taking up yoga? I doubt it. If you want it, you will do it. Anyone who actually engages in the practice can sort through that article for what is worthwhile. And if you can't, perhaps it isn't the right time to take up yoga. And that's cool too.

Nathan said...

Don't over do it. Yep. Makes sense to me.

I agree Robyn. There seems to be something about yoga - and perhaps Buddhism too - that gets under someone's skin over at the NY Times. I'm not terribly worried about people being scared off of practice because of that article. If one article in a newspaper stirs up such fear in someone, perhaps they might be better served to take up Scrabble or something of the like instead.

Algernon said...

It sells papers, yes. It also sells insurance, wittingly or not. When I was working for Cambridge Zen Center, the board had a serious discussion about buying liability insurance for koan practice. In case someone, I don't know, had a nervous breakdown from working on a koan and decided to sue. I laughed out loud at the board meeting, but they were quite serious, and apparently other dharma centers have gone that way.

Even though the risk of injury from working on a koan is next to miniscule, the fear of RISK was very strong.

Thing is, we can't ever make a world where there are no bits of glass or thorny shrubs or such things.

Nathan said...

"Even though the risk of injury from working on a koan is next to miniscule, the fear of RISK was very strong." This is so true. I think you're dead on about the subtle plug being made for insurance in that article.

7 Chakras said...

I agree with Algernon.the FEAR of risk is very strong.but the risk of injury from working on a koan is next to miniscule.

Alkaline Water said...

well i dont think we should even care about hat others say about yoga. its us who chose yoga for a bit peace of mind, its us who found it really helpful. every thing in this world has its admirer and its haters club. its upto every people who they will listen to.Carpet Cleaning

7 Chakras said...

Everything in this world has got some both positive and negative aspects. Yes, Yoga is a really beneficial things. But there are exceptions where Yoga is not 100% perfect. But exceptions cannot be examples. NY times may write many negative articles, but still I don't think it's gonna fade the incredible outcomes from Yoga.