Vilifying Certain Yoga Postures
We've been hearing a lot about certain yoga postures causing injuries, hip replacements, and pain. Chaturanga Dandasana and Eka Pada Rajakapotasana are two that have come up repeatedly. These postures aren't harming our bodies; the verbal cues, poor teaching skills, and lack of anatomical knowledge on the teacher's part are part of the problem. As practitioners, our so-called 'need' to get deeper is the other part.
In regards to pigeon: when I am in a class and the teacher tells us that we can go deeper by getting our leg parallel with the top of the mat in pigeon, this tells me that the teacher 1) doesn't know the anatomy of the body 2) doesn't know the point of the posture 3) is mis-teaching the meaning of "deeper."
As a teacher: are we watching our students' bodies and teaching what we see? Are we learning anatomy daily, monthly, annually? Are we speaking clearly and safely to our students in our classes? Are we pushing them to go "deeper?" And, what is deeper? Why do we need them to go deeper?
As Students: are we listening to our teachers? Are we practicing from a place of contentment? Are we pushing ourselves too far? Are we practicing awareness in our practice (not awareness of physical posture, but rather, physical experience)? Can we tune in instead of striving, and can we ask ourselves "Why am I doing this?"
Paying attention is key. As teachers and practitioners we are both responsible for paying attention. Students, pay attention to your body and your experience as you practice the postures, from beginning to end. Teachers, pay attention to your students; look to see if they really need to go deeper, and why do they need to go deeper? As students, don't ever be afraid to ask questions of your teachers. Think of it as an interview or evaluation of sorts. You are paying your teachers to provide a service, and you can ask questions not only to learn, but more importantly, to know you are in safe hands.