|Photo from the Ashtanga Yoga Palace|
Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems.I agree that in many ways it is incongruous to take postures and anatomical ideas which were conceived of in India hundreds of years ago and apply them to our life today. Not only are we different physically and as a society, but our climate is vastly different, and it's important to remember this on a cold winters morning; the conditions are far from ideal. The article also talks about the danger of having ego in yoga practice, and I think this is the crux of the issue.
Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”
As much as I idolise yoga pros such as Kino MacGregor, I do understand that the practice is always highly personal. At it's core it's about the unison of the mind, body and spirit, and not about looking like a gymnast. That's why I favour self-practice, or mysore style classes rather then led classes, as they allow you to go at your own pace and learn the series for yourself, rather than following a teacher's lead. Each day your body is different, just as every day your mood or the weather changes. It's important to notice these changes and honour them in your practice, only pushing your body when you feel ready, and taking it easy and fostering your inward focus when this is more appropriate. For now I feel that I am living in a split body - my right side is very flexible and pliant, and my left hip and leg are so stiff and sore that I can feel the pain of a first time yoga trainee - the feeling that my body won't do what it's meant to and never will. But I know through experience (10 years!) that this is not the case, it will change, just very slowly! Luckily I'm in no rush.