The (False) Promises of Yoga

These days yoga classes are fantastic, yoga workshops are splendid, the experience of yoga is divine, the yoga people you meet are magnificent, the flow is sensational, the smell of the food is out of this world, the mats are excellent, the tea, well, of course it is what yoga gods drink, the mat cleaning spray is simply mega, the shoe rack at the shala is breathtaking… Boy! FFS! Can’t we just do yoga, teach classes, workshops and let others decide what it was they felt or thought about the whole thing, after the thing has actually happened. Continue reading

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Where do I stand? Head and Shoulders?

I don’t think any particular movement or yoga pose is inherently dangerous, but I do think that certain movements or yoga poses can be dangerous if done carelessly and mindlessly. Each asana is a challenge to contort the body, and therefore the mind, and some more than others. I’ve been reading about the demonisation of salamba sarvangasana (shoulderstand) and salamba sirsasana (supported headstand) for a while now and I fail to understand the particular problem with these poses. Meanwhile, I don’t see anyone talking about the dangers of super deep back bends, arm balances, or nasty twists, not to mention handstands. If anything, I have to scroll through numerous handstand photographs on Instagram or Facebook! But no-one is writing blogs about how they stopped teaching chaturanga dandasana or phalankasana because the shoulders and wrists have to carry a lot of weight and might easily get injured, instead we talk about the ways to perform such poses safely. Although, one obvious reason for this maybe the relative importance the neck and the head compared with the wrists and the shoulders! Continue reading

Namaste Iyengar

BSK Iyengar died at the age of 96 on 20 November.

I, unfortunately, am to young to have met Iyengar and my brief encounter with Iyengar style yoga is limited to a weekend workshop. However, not a day goes by without having to refer to his books more than any other book on yoga and asanas. He is always precise and thorough, pretty much the yoga style he taught. He will always be a teacher to me through his books. He was a central piece of disseminating yoga to millions of people.

Here is a short article about his life and contribution to yoga.

Namaste to him from the bottom of my heart!

How far should one push?

Yoga has never been more popular in the West and one type of yoga prevails above others, namely Hatha yoga in the form of Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga Vinyasa etc. Hatha yoga is distinguished from other types of yoga by its emphasis on asana more than the other practices in the yoga tradition. It is, naturally and inevitably, being transformed and assimilated into a Western style. Yoga in the West has been transformed since the 60s-70s but as practicing yoga became more and more popular and accessible to wider group of practitioners, it is difficult to talk about a unified understanding of its practice. Continue reading