Yoga

There’s a ton of nonsense published online about yoga.

Case in point is an article posted today on a major yoga website with a list of “principles” no student should miss.

I’m not going to link to this site as this posting isn’t about opinion, it’s about being able to figure out what works for you.

The major yoga magazines are no better.12-asanas

For example, the first “principal” is you should do your yoga practice on an empty stomach. You can google any number of experts who will agree with this idea and just as big a bunch who will vehemently disagree. Some “experts” say you should fast while others advocate multiple small meals all day long. Do what works for you.

Number two dumb suggestion: Do your yoga in the morning before breakfast. The idea behind this “principle” is doing yoga when your stomach is empty will prevent injury because you’re likely not to overstretch. Huh? Seriously?

Number three says every posture has a purpose and a benefit. Well I would hope so!

Number four states that yoga is actually a spiritual exercise. Oh dear. It’s primarily a spiritual exercise. Always has been. The origins of yoga date back to around 400 CE in the Yoga Sutras (threads) of Patanjali. This is a pretty good read but it’s got nothing to do with asanas (which in Sanskrit actually means seat). The positions were made popular by Indian practitioners around 150 years ago, not 2,000 years ago.

Read B K S Iyengar’s The Illustrated Light On Yoga here.

The fifth principle in the article says practicing with awareness is imperative. Now here’s something I agree with. When you enter a yoga studio please be respectful and mindful of your fellow students. Don’t snap your mat out while others are meditating. Be quiet and don’t carry on a conversation inside the room. Oh yes. Did nobody tell you that the yoga room in most studios is considered a place of meditation and many students arrive early in order to practice breathing and mediation.

BTW absolutely do not bring your cell phone into the yoga room. I’ve been meditating when somebody’s phone went off. I’ve been doing asanas only to notice a fellow student texting. In both cases I stopped what I was doing and I confronted the student and insisted they remove the cell phone from the room. One kid insisted on keeping her cellphone (talk about the nanny state) in the room saying it was on vibrate. Of course once one person brings their cellphone into the room it makes it appear to newcomers that cellphones are okay. They’re not. At least not in the yoga studio. This is the place we come to get away for an hour from the daily interruptions in our modern lives. If you can’t leave your cellphone in the car, don’t come into the yoga studio. You need more help than you can get from yoga.

One other concern you should be aware of is the hot humid yoga rooms are toxic to your cellphone’s printed circuit boards and battery connections. The hot room creates condensation inside your cellphone. It won’t take long before something shorts out. It’s worse in the winter but not good at anytime.

Awareness also applies to listening to your body as you practice. This is important. Notice if you’re tensing up and focus on your breathing. Notice your thoughts. Do not attach to them. Let them go. Your teacher can explain Ujjayi breathing technique to you. This will help. It is a vital part of moving through your yoga postures. Breathe as you do the poses (Here’s a good one: One yoga form says you should breath in while contracting your muscles and another respected form says no you should breath out when contracting the muscles.) Do what your instructor teaches and know the next instructor may well teach a contradictory method. Both will work just fine.

Yoga is a practice. Go practice it.