Elephant in the Room

by Ganga White

There is a common belief among many Yoga teachers and practitioners that all asanas are beneficial and that in fact all were designed for specific purposes and benefits. On the contrary, contemporary research has shown that many asanas were created by circus contortionists for performance and exhibition purposes in order to entertain and astonish the audience. This contortion can also be seen by observation. Many Yoga poses involve pushing extreme limits of flexibility and these poses are not beneficial for long term mobility and well being. Saying this is heresy for many true believers. 

Let your purpose for practice be your guiding principle. If you are practicing for performance, you can do so safely, especially when under the age of thirty, while paying attention to the longer term effects. It is important to learn to discern the difference between exhibition poses and healing or therapeutic well-being poses. It doesn’t take a large complement of poses to have a well balanced practice that can keep one strong with good flexibility for a lifetime. Many simple, very basic postures can achieve this. The less obvious elephant asana lesson in the room is that postures can cut both ways, they can heal or harm.