Within the past few weeks, there has been a massive amount of controversial publicity surrounding yoga. Is yoga really bad for you? Is my athletic practice just spurring my ego and causing injury instead of making me stronger? Am I good enough if I can’t press into a handstand (in my panties)?
The controversy that started with the recent article published in the NY Times Magazine touting the dangers of yoga was followed by a NY Magazine article showcasing one NYC Rock-Star yoga teacher who made a dramatic shift in his teaching style because “he didn’t like what he was seeing” from his students. All of the buzz was quickly defended (or ripped a new one) from the yoga community and the rock star yogi himself. The best part is that Equinox preempted this with a sexy yoga video of the gorgeous Briohny Smyth demonstrating a series of flight poses in her skivvies.
It’s all pretty crazy and overwhelming… especially for those who aren’t sure what to digest first. Should you practice yoga or not?
The fact of the matter is this, you can get injured in yoga just like you can get injured in any sort of physical activity, like lifting weights, playing football or snowboarding. In yoga, injury occurs when you aren’t properly aligned, when you are pushing yourself too hard, when you aren’t listening to your body or your teacher and when you are being guided by your ego instead of your breath.
And then what about that ego, I must suck at yoga if I can’t press myself into a handstand. (I have to admit, with all of the controversy, I am totally still in awe of the Equinox Video. I thought it was beautiful to see someone with so much control of her body and her breath.)
So why the Eff Should I do yoga anyway?
I heard it perfectly spoken by one of my students after class on Friday. It is my exact belief and was so beautiful to hear it coming from someone else’s mouth. Yoga is about the breath. How can you sit in the place that makes you feel at “your” edge (not someone else’s edge) and still find the internal stillness to breath through it.
Yoga is about the breath. That’s it.
The physical part of the practice has it’s many benefits, but if I were to personally speak about what brings me to the mat every day, it is always to breathe. To show up wherever I am that day, sometimes handstand strong and sometimes just to take it slow.
The fact of the matter is this: many of us may never be able to master what some can. When we breathe, wherever we are in any given moment, we are doing yoga. So if you think you aren’t strong enough or flexible enough to take a yoga practice, I really challenge you to think again. Show up. Do what you can. Ask your teacher for guidance and listen to what they have to say. Most importantly, breathe.
I like breathing so much that I made a video of one of my favorite breathing practices..
I want to hear what you think about yoga and how the breath has helped you. Leave a comment below.
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