|“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”|
Yoga has taken off everywhere (Seva (service) takes it across boarders and cultures unaccustomed to yoga: Costa Rica, Africa, and Cambodia, as well as, in US prisons and inner cities) and is completely mainstream (suburbia has embraced it) and in most cases watered down as a physical form of exercise without the mind/body connection. (There's a new yoga video out called the "NO OM yoga" no chanting, no om's, no pranayama, only physical, asana based "routines". Nothing wrong with no om's. In fact, at Lifetime or the Y, I typically do not OM mainly because it just doesn't feel true to my teaching right now.)
I should start keeping track of the number of students who tell me their doctor told them to take yoga for stress, back injuries, strengthen their "core", pregnancy, & general wellness. Just yesterday a student shared openly that yoga is to be a part of her 12 step program to sobriety by request of her therapist.
Wouldn't it be more beneficial for the doctors to recommend that their patients take a yoga private session, so that the instructor can customize the session to their individual needs? Most classes are meant for the general population and in large classes, it's nearly impossible for an instructor to meet the special needs/injuries of each student. Imagine teaching a class with: a pregnant student, one with a bulging disc in the cervical neck, and another with sciatica. All different needs, and in a level 2 or 3 flow class with inversions and arm balances! Those special needs students always think they have to be doing what everyone else does, then end up either uncomfortable (my sweet pregnant student after just 15 minutes left- it was as if I was teaching 2 different classes, one for her and one for the other 20 students) and irritated that they cannot do it all the first time they try, hurting themselves, or not coming back at all, thinking yoga is not for them! When, what they really needed was either a smaller class in a level 1 or possibly a one on one yoga therapy class to assess their situation, bodies and more. Doctors, magazines, everyone... is recommending yoga as a treatment for various physical aliments. What if in the midst of it all, we discovered or uncovered what we really needed? Real changes goes deeper than the physical body. Only very few people want to sit still long enough to listen to the quiet. The quiet, stillness can speak to us so loudly, that we would simply rather busy ourselves so that we don't have to listen.
Doctors are going to continue to recommend yoga-- studies are confirming all the benefits that yogis have known for thousands of years. I would also hope that doctors would follow their own advise-- take the classes that they tell their students to take. It's what we all hope that we do, live by quiet example.