Doctors and yoga teachers have the same first principle: Do No Harm. If we do things blindly, and if we don’t mine data, we won’t fulfill that principle. — Dr. Raza AwanWhat I love about listening to Dr. Awan talk about yoga injuries is that he has all the relaxation of someone with no conflict of interest. He’s the medical director for Synergy Sports Medicine in Toronto, so he can show up for an intense yoga injuries discussion forum on a Thursday night, drop some data-bombs, and go back to work on Friday morning like nothing happened.
The claim that Wild Thing can be done safely might involve the same wishful/magical thinking as the claim that yoga and meditation will automatically “shift consciousness”, whether individually, communally, or “vibrationally”. Both claims seem to depend upon overlooking concrete material conditions in favour of nurturing faith in vague metaphysical principles. Concrete material conditions demand specific learning objectives.
I’m closing in on fifty interviews for this project, and it’s getting richer every week. I’ve spoken to a trauma survivor who has been repeatedly triggered in asana classes by both invasive touch and psychological insensitivity. I’ve spoken to a medical doctor (as well as 30-year practitioner and teacher) who remembers the moment when he actively suppressed his critical thinking medical-mind so that he could overlook the unfounded medical claims that a leading instructor was making about postures.
About a month and two dozen interviews into this research project and I can honestly say I’ve learned more about how folks experience yoga than I have over the past eleven years of teaching. The stories of pain, injury, recovery, and wisdom keep rolling, each unraveling unique twists of psychology along with the tweaks of tissue.
I just completed the first week of interviewing for “What Are We Actually Doing in Asana?“ As I expected, and resonant with my own experience with asana, I heard stories of re-embodiment and renewed courage. Many experienced relief from chronic pain, both physical and emotional. Many felt that physical yoga practice was integral to the most significant period of personal change in their lives. Some people came to asana as though they were coming home.
On January 2nd 2014, I posted a request to Facebook: ______ Dear Facebook yoga practitioners – I’m doing some research into asana-related injuries for an upcoming writing project. I would like to gather formal interview subjects, but also to hear, via private message whatever details you care to disclose. If you’d like to be an interview subject (Skype), let me know by personal message. Please do not use the comment function below. By “asana-related injury” I mean any type of…