Is Traditional Yoga Right For Everyone?
The popularity of yoga is exploding in western culture and we have embraced the idea that it is a miracle cure for our modern ills. An avalanche of celebrity endorsements, yoga magazines, studios, YouTube gurus and Instagram reels – featuring gorgeous yogis flowing effortlessly into impossible poses infront some exotic backdrop – all conspire to send us the same message.
Yoga will fix us.
Want to be thin and beautiful? Yoga. Want to find inner peace? Then yoga. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, back problems, migraine, weight issues? Yoga, yoga, yoga.
Is it really possible that this one form of movement, unchanged since thousands of years, can deliver us all these miracle results?
Is Yoga the Universal Panacea for What Ails Us?
Convenience foods, constantly elevated stress levels and sedentary lifestyles. Humans of the developed world are perhaps more unhealthy than ever before. With the promise of a toned body, increased flexibility, and beutific zen, it’s no wonder we are turning to yoga in record numbers. A survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal reported that the number of Americans doing yoga grew from 20.4 million in 2012 to over 36 million in 2016. That’s huge! With a demographic of that size comes diversity. The yoga movement includes people from all walks of life, all ages, all levels of physical capability, and with many diverse wellness goals. What they have in common is they all have drunk the kool aid, buying into the promise that yoga will offer them the path to physical and spiritual transformation.
I Put This Promise to the Test
There was a time when I too believed this promise. I was in a dark place. Lacking in self-love. Wanting desperately to believe that yoga would fix my body and fix my self-esteem. I took to yoga like a kind of religion. I followed a rigorous Ashtanga practice and was faithful to all elements of the yogi lifestyle such as veganism. For many years I was disciplined and consistent. And yet I did not get the results I was seeking. After following the path of traditional yoga, I was actually feeling worse about myself, not better. I began to ask myself why. Armed with modern knowledge about human movement and physiology I undertook my own research and investigation. This journey of self-experimentation and education lead me to question the blind faith and prescriptive approach to a traditional yoga practice.
Where Does Yoga Fall Short?
Not all studios and teachers are created equal
Such a dramatic increase in demand triggers a corresponding rush of providers to meet it. Yoga has become commoditized and the yoga economy increasingly profit-driven.
New studios are opening all the time, staffed with fresh young teachers clutching their YTT200 certificate. Many of these teachers lack the experience, deeper training and knowledge to make meaningful adjustments or guide students safely.
For Profit Mentality
Studios are so motivated by profit their only concern is how many mats are on the floor, not what are the individual goals and capabilities of each student. Few studios have the time or motivation to tune in to the individual. The teacher will lead a packed shala through a one-size-fits-all series of vinyasa without making much of a connection to where each individual student is at. Each person in the room will experience the session differently according to their capabilities and for some the benefit may be quite minimal.
Risk of injury
The constant stream of yoga imagery on social media and other online platforms creates unrealistic expectations. Coupled with inexperienced teachers who may not understand or appreciate the differing physical capabilities of their students, the prescriptive approach to traditional yoga presents real risk of injury.
One-size-fits all approach lacks a holistic view of wellness
The Western adaptation of traditional yoga focuses primarily on asanas with perhaps some short pranayama and meditation. Complete physical and mental wellness requires more than that. We need strength and resistance training, aerobic fitness and integrated nutritional planning. Depending on what is your baseline fitness level, diet and experience with exercise, the level of change could be significant and require more than a cookie-cutter approach to get you there.
Making the Switch to Yoga Switch
Through my personal journey of transformation I learned how to tune into my own body and developed a custom approach to serving it. Integrating elements of traditional yoga, strength and resistance training, and nutrition I have achieved peak physical fitness and a deep sense of inner tranquility and confidence. I wish to share my learning with you and help you achieve the same.
This is the first of a series of monthly installments in which I deep dive into the Yoga Switch methodology. I will share with you the results of my life work and passion. Each month will show how Yoga Switch will teach you how to tune into your body and figure out what it really needs. You will learn how a holistic and uniquely tailored approach will best serve your body and bring you to a place of self-love and self-reliance.
Welcome to the Yoga Switch Tribe.
With love, Klara Hood.