Whenever William Broad of the NY Times writes a sensationalist article, the yoga blogosphere gets all in a tizzy.
I’ve never participated before because, well, I don’t really think it’s all that important.
I am well aware that yoga is dangerous, because being a human being is inherently dangerous.
I know that every morning that I get out of bed there is potential danger lurking, but being afraid of that is debilitating and will not serve me in the slightest.
Inhabiting a human body means that you will inevitably experience pain, trauma, disease, degeneration and death. There’s no escaping it.
Practicing asana is certainly no more dangerous that running, climbing, skiing, or stepping down off a curb to walk across a busy street.
Eating too much is dangerous, as is eating too little. Exercising too much is dangerous, as is exercising too little. We can hurt ourselves sometimes by taking it too far physically, but then there are other times when we hurt ourselves barely doing anything at all – accidents and flukes happen no matter how careful we try to be.
I’ve cut myself making soup before but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop cooking, you know?
When it comes to pain and injury in practice, I view it as the practitioners responsibility to judge for him or herself what is “good pain” (growing, stretching, breaking through barriers) and “bad pain” (overextending muscles, ligaments, improperly aligned stretching, overdoing it, etc.,). You must try your best to be the judge of this, but probably, at least once, you will be wrong, and so you might get hurt. Live and learn.
When I’m feeling a little fragile or injured, I always take a step back on the yoga mat and in other physical activities. I move about it all quite gently with plenty of modifications and permission to rest. I’m careful and conscious and do my best to stay aware of the sensations in my body. That’s really all you can do, if you decide to keep practicing, which I hope you do, no matter what a journalist says!
Danger exists in the practice, but I believe it is far more dangerous to just sit on the couch, disengage and never make an attempt to really know yourself, inside and out.
Be brave, fearless yogis!
Say your prayers and keep at it!
Love and Blessings,