the NYT vs yoga

The NYT recently ran a piece on Bikram yoga, marshalling various physical therapists and medical doctors who gave little soundbites about how exercising in heat can be bad for you, how flexibility can be bad for you, and how yoga in general can be bad for you. Honestly, it's amazing that anyone reads any health reporting in the mainstream media these days. So cautious and so contradictory as not to say much at all.

So, just to make it clear where I stand: ANYTHING can be bad for you if done improperly, to excess, or with the wrong goals in mind. The corollary to that precept is that NO ONE PLAN (routine, prescription, diet, etc) will suit everyone. Once people can get out of the false empiricism encouraged by the ever-present "polls" and "studies" reported in our media and recognize that most traditional medical systems and folkways include systems of categorizing people according to metabolic type, maybe some real education can happen.

I feel fortunate that I was able to see my way beyond the traditional Western medical system over a decade ago -- to research things on my own and keep an open mind about different modalities for increasing and improving our overall wellness.

Personally, I really enjoy the Bikram series -- but it's not the only type of yoga out there, and it's certainly not for everybody. The heat can be very intense, and some body types are just better equipped to deal with it than others. But what the NYT describes doesn't match my experience at all. All the teachers I've encountered go out of their way to watch new students, to offer adaptations for those with injuries or limited range of motion, and to encourage a gentle approach to the postures. Personally, I've found the Bikram series to offer a wonderful blend of physical benefits (less knee pain, greater flexibility, improved range of motion in my shoulders) and emotional/spiritual/mental benefits: the yoga works on you, through you, beyond your conscious mind's attempts to control the situation. By focusing your attention on the extreme conditions of the physical, you free up your spiritual resources so that other transformations occur.

It makes me angry to see reporting like this, which is so obviously slanted against its purported topic from the beginning. But it also seems like the last gasp of the establishment -- after all, in the past ten years yoga has gone from hippie to trendy to completely yuppified -- so why even bother trying to turn people against it?