A new yoga book called The New Yoga: From Cult and Dogma to Science and Sanity [AMAZON] is promising to ask some hard-hitting questions about how we view yoga in the twenty first century.
Rob Walker, a certified yoga teacher and member of the US Yoga Alliance, is a fourth level certified Iyengar Yoga practitioner [one of the many forms of yoga]. He studied yoga extensively in India and opened his own yoga studio to teach what he learned. And he claims that the way we view yoga today is highly misguided.
Walker states that yoga needs a “major shakeup and needs to drop many nonsensical and dangerous cues to bring it safely and sensibly into the 21st century.”
Indeed, there certainly are many misunderstandings of yoga and there definitely is risk of people learning yoga the wrong way. Many people learn yoga from Youtube videos uploaded by yogis who are not certified, or from various blog posts some of which are from questionable sources. And with the amount of mainstream “pop” media attention that yoga is getting, we are at risk of losing sight of what yoga is all about. This is why I am so excited about Walker’s new yoga book The New Yoga: From Cult and Dogma to Science and Sanity.
Yoga is arguably more threatened today than it every has been. Ironic, given how popular it is. But it is that very popularity that threatens it. Yoga is becoming more about yoga pants and Instagram selfies than it is about discovering the self through asana and other yogic practices [such as yogic meditation].
In the book, Walker offers six ways to strip away the nonsense of yoga and discover the true meaning. In doing so he quotes a variety of experts and shares his experience from more than twenty years of teaching yoga.
The book attacks many of the modern myths associate with yoga. Including:
- Stretching is not the primary goal. Really? Yes. More important are ten other benefits including two new buzzwords, proprioception and interoception.
- Mobility tops flexibility. Focus on better control over a safe range of movement.
- “Practice and all is coming.” Not so! Despite the famous guru’s oft quotes words, we may never achieve certain poses. Trying will lead to injury.
- Avoid repetitive stress and encourage brain health with frequent and varying moves on and off the mat.
- ‘Pretzels’ pushing extreme flexibility lead to injury and misplaced envy. Hyper-mobility is not something to envy; it’s sad.
- Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Maintain what works but question all for good evidence.
This is an insightful and mind-opening read for anyone wanting to demystify yoga.