Published Dec 4, 12 PM
By Nadine Fawell
I love yoga. I’ll confess that upfront.
But I generally stay well away from yoga marketing because it makes my crazy come back. Since I do yoga in large part to MANAGE my mental health issues, I find it really sad that most yoga marketing still makes people feel so very bad about themselves.
I saw a blog post today that made my eyeballs bleed:
THE YOGA IS NOT THE PROBLEM… YOU ARE
(If you haven’t already read it, you might want to for context.)
Of course yoga isn’t the problem. It’s perfect, didntcha know? As are the people teaching it. It’s just that YOU are dodgy. Your body probably doesn’t bend right. You are probably the wrong shape, the wrong size, the wrong color.
And you are definitely not spiritual enough either.
For decade and a half, I’ve used yoga as my main tool of sanity.
One of the most important things I learned, and am still learning, from my practice, is that it’s essential to practice compassion. Which is the essence of the yogic precept of ahimsa: non-violence.
I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Have done since I was eight years old. Rough childhood. And although I can go months, sometimes even years, without any real symptoms, life has taught me that they will probably come back when I am very tired, or very stressed, or something triggering happens.
If you feel compassion for yourself and others you are more likely to make decisions with everyone’s best interests at heart. Telling people that they are too defective to get into a down dog? Not compassionate. Why not just offer a variation on the pose that suits the person today?
And anyway, which version of each yoga pose is the “right” one? Because there’d have to be just one right one in order for it to be not yoga, but you, that is the problem.
Life doesn’t work that way.
There are shades of gray; there is no such thing as one perfect alignment for all people.
There are principles, sure, but they need to adapt to each unique human. For example, I spend a lot of time trying to stabilize my joints, many of which are hypermobile. So I do a lot of strength work. Things might be different for someone who’s incredibly strong but has never stretched. There isn’t one pose or goal that is “not the problem.” Any could help and any could harm.
We know so much more about how bodies work these days: biomechanical principles are being taught and disseminated in the yoga world.
We also know more about how minds work: we don’t call PTSD “shell-shock” anymore, and there are good strategies for helping sufferers deal with their symptoms. One that works very well for me is thought challenging: challenging the validity and usefulness of a thought or belief pattern.
Here’s one I have to work on ALL the time (it’s common to many sufferers of PTSD): believing we are somehow faulty, that we somehow caused the trauma. Often, in cases of abuse, the abuser perpetuates this belief in order to keep the victim quiet.
Much like telling someone that yoga isn’t the problem, they are. I wonder who the author of this article is trying to keep quiet?
About Nadine Fawell:
Nadine Fawell’s edit button doesn’t work: if there is something inappropriate to be said, she will say it. Often in yoga class. She drinks coffee and swears and sometimes she thinks deeply about life. You can find her at www.yogainmelbourne.com.