Today the word Yoga is indeed a hot and loaded one. You can't say it without it bringing up some kind of intense emotional response. Take the latest article in the New York Times as an example, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. A provocative article on extreme cases in which people tore ligaments and tendons doing down-ward dog and broke their ribs in a spinal twist.
Having taught yoga for over 17 years I have yet to see this happen in even the most aggressive student. Still, yoga is a household word sparkling up lots of nonsense articles. The one thing I can tell you is that not done properly, yes, yoga is not good and no one should practice it. These kinds of articles elicit fear and drama. Anyone can break their leg skating, dislocate a joint swimming and get killed walking across the street. Most people do not practice yoga properly at all. BKS Iyengar (a living Yoga Master with over 75 years of experience) states very clearly that improper practice will weaken you mentally, physically and spiritually. And by the way, it is not always the fault of a bad teacher but being a bad student.
People are either obsessed with Yoga or criticize it. Because of these extremes, I often dread making a call to a service provider. As soon as I mention the magic word I am met with a multitude of reactions. People suddenly want to tell me all about their experiences, ask me if their son should get into it or find out what kind of yoga I teach. My latest conversation was with Bell Mobility (a phone company in Canada).
Bell: So you are the owner, I can see that here...Heather Morton. What is the name of the business?
Me: The Yoga Way.
Bell: Okay, Heather what can I do for you today?
Me: I want to review my options. (Subtext: About my phone, of course).
Bell: Hm, give me one second while my system looks for your profile. What does your business do?
Me: It’s a yoga school. (Subtext: Just dropped the bomb.)
Bell: Yoga?!!!! WOW! Really that is GRr-ATE!
Me: Yes. (Subtext: Oh no, prepare for blast off.)
Bell: So I heard that you can beat yoga.
Me: Beat yoga? (Subtext: Yikes. This guy is a live-wire.)
Bell: Yah, I heard that yoga is the kind of thing that you can beat.
Me: What do you mean? (Subtext: I can’t believe I am actually asking.)
Bell: I heard that you can beat it in terms of learning everything there is to know. But I think one could learn yoga as a life experience, you know.
Me: Right, it is for your life. (Subtext: I find myself at a loss for words.)
Bell: So you could do all kinds of neat things like touch your toes and put your butt to the wall. Ha, ha, ha.
Me: Hm, I guess you could! (Subtext: Blank.)
Bell: Do you own more than one school at many locations across Canada?
Me: No, this is a sole-proprietorship. (Subtext: Not sure why I volunteer this info.)
Bell: That's cool...so you basically do yoga for the love of it?!!?
Me: Right. (Subtext: I see, because I haven't made a cash-cow out of my business I am doing it for love?)
Bell: Wow, that’s so great! Let me put you on hold for a minute.
Me: (Subtext: Maybe he`s gone to do yoga.)
Moral of the Story: I really wish someone would draw a cool caricature of me and Bell.
The Journey So Far
- Heather Morton
- is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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