Don’t get too bent out of shape by all the recent who hah from the New York Times article about the dangers of Yoga. There may be some dangers in using Yoga to get yourself bent into shape, but that is no great revelation and nothing to fear. I’ve cautioned for many years, and wrote in YBB, asanas are tools, not goals, and they can cut both ways. Is a knife good or bad? Yes!
A couple months ago I had the good fortune of getting an advance copy of Science of Yoga from William Broad. The publication date is in February and the book is much more balanced than his NYT article. I think it’s a great book with valuable insights and contributions. It is not anti Yoga. Broad is and has been a practicing yogi for years. The book points out what he sees, and what he thinks science has shown, are dangers to be avoided. This doesn’t mean everything the book asserts is true but it initiates a much needed inquiry and debate. Broad’s book also validates many of Yoga’s benefits. Very often, when I’ve been interviewed, I am asked the question of where I think Yoga is heading in the future. I usually say that the caterpillar may have no idea of becoming a butterfly. We don’t know how our art and science will bloom as it grows and evolves. Then I add that one thing I can say for sure is that science and medicine will continue to discover benefits as well as problem areas and misapprehensions in Yoga practice and belief. Since Yoga has come west, and around the world, it has cross-pollinated with modern medicine, science, and many other disciplines. It has grown enormously in content and quality—it has evolved. This is welcome–a good thing. Understandably, traditionalists who erroneously believe Yoga was completely developed, elucidated, and perfected in the past are upset.
Yogis concerned with using the tools of Yoga to create a more refined practice will welcome new insights, information and debate. There are asanas known to be detrimental and they should be eliminated as should aggressive and rigid approaches to practice. This may be shocking to true believers, but it good news to those who want to move forward. Broad’s Science of Yoga this year, and Mark Singleton’s book Yoga Body from last year, contribute to Yoga’s apocalypse—in the root meaning of the word, the uncovering of truth. I have been and remain a proponent of an evolutionary approach to Yoga.