Tag Archives: bad yoga

Bad Yoga #16: If I Twist the Wrong Direction the First Time Then I’ll Hurt Myself?

Our dream came true when one of our readers wrote to us with the most fabulous question: I’d like to see if you can answer a question for me. I’m currently working on my 500 hour yoga certification. This past weekend one of the teachers, in talking about twisting postures, insisted that twists must be done to the right then left to follow the path of the intestines. She went so far as to say that you are putting your students digestive health at serious risk to do twists left then right. This just doesn’t seem likely to me. So Read more…

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Bad Yoga #15: Practicing Chaturanga Will Make Your Shoulders Stronger…NOT

We will not be the first, nor hopefully the last, to write about the dangers of trying to do Chaturanga without proper strength training. Our hope is to disabuse the general public of false beliefs. One being that all things “yoga” are a safe way to mindlessly approach movement while under the guidance of an often under-qualified instructor. Chaturanga is one of the most challenging postures in any yoga class. It’s a straight plank with your elbows bent and tucked into your sides. Google it and you’ll see what’s up. The shoulder joint is one of the most complicated and Read more…

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Bad Yoga #14: Spreading Your Toes and Flattening Your Feet Helps You Balance Better

…Step to the front of your mat and try to find equal weight in the feet and ankle joints. Now pick up your toes and spread them wide. Keep your toes spread wide as you slowly bring them back down to the floor. Try to keep the toes open, and spread the flesh underneath the feet so as to expand how much of your mat they usually cover. This action will help you to be rooted to the earth and give you a better sense of balance… The above action is commonplace in a yoga class and sounds nice. But Read more…

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3 GOOD Reasons for Practicing Inversions

Our last two posts disabuse you of the false belief that inversions in your yoga practice will help combat the “negative” effects of gravity. There may be some people wanting to scream at us for overlooking the positive reasons for being upside down. One potentially positive idea that comes to mind is the importance of tractioning, a practice which can relieve pressure on the spine. (Note: this doesn’t have to be done while upside down, but some people do prefer tractioning to be done while upending their usual relationship to gravity.) Sure, yes, being upside down can feel good! But Read more…

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Bad Yoga: Being Upside Down Helps Combat Gravity (Part 2)

Continuing from our last post… There are two main reasons we don’t subscribe to the notion that inversions reverse the effects of gravity (in addition to a host of other purported benefits): Reason #1)  Homeostasis, as applied to biology, is the physical body’s way of preserving an internal state of balance. An example of homeostasis is thermoregulation or the maintenance of body temperature: (from another site) special sensors sense the temperature of the blood and send the information to a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus “knows” that the proper temperature should be about 98.6°F. If Read more…

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Bad Yoga #12: Making Your Spine Long Helps the Flow of Cerebrospinal Fluid

In a yoga class, one is often directed to keep a “long” spine. Teachers will even say that being able to lengthen the spine helps the cerebrospinal fluid to flow more easily.  Well, let’s explain why that is not true and how that kind of false belief can even be potentially harmful. First, let’s us really understand what CSF is. Cerebrospinal fluid is a fluid that circulates throughout the spinal canal and across the surfaces of the brain, which at any given moment is about 150 ml (in the subarachnoid space) in volume.  The entire volume of CSF is replaced Read more…

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Bad Yoga Tip #8: Turning Your Head Makes Your Twist Bigger

Often in yoga classes we are directed to turn the head in the opposite direction of the knees to “increase the twist.”   But it may be more important to track the subtle sensations and know from where we are twisting than be concerned about how far we can go.  Sometimes turning the head can make us lose track of those sensations. Yoga provides an opportunity for self-exploration that can be more valuable than shape making.  So let us explore what’s going and what contributes to what we feel. Turning your head, with the eyes closed, can enhance sensations coming from Read more…

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Bad Yoga Tip #7: Twists “Cleanse” and “Wring Out” Your Organs

Fellow yoga teachers, please stop saying that doing twists (whether seated, standing, or lying down) helps to “wring out the organs”.  Some even go as far as to say they should be done as part of cleanses and can rid the organs of toxins, and that when you release from the twist, your organs are “filling with fresh blood”.  While these may be helpful metaphors, they are for the most part not true and can convey a message that yoga teachers have little to no appreciation for the sciences of anatomy and physiology. 1) Generally (if you are contracting your internal and Read more…

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Bad Yoga Tip #6 – Flatten Your Back

Many a times does it occur when a client will express concern over the arch in the lower back.  Particularly when laying on the floor we’ll hear, “I can’t get my lower back to touch the floor!”  We’re not totally sure where this obsession with having a flat back comes from, but there is an obvious need to be rid of it.  We’ve even heard other yoga teachers use the instruction to “flatten the back” in classes. Now, in certain situations/asanas it is optimal to perform axial extension or be able to articulate in the pelvis and SI joint (although, sometimes Read more…

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Bad Yoga Tip # 5 – Boat Pose Works Your Abs?

You heard time and again the classic yoga pose, Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose), described as the perfect ab toning move.  But is it really?  Well, that all depends on how it is taught.  For example, some teachers will describe the asana as a pose that one performs while balancing on the “sitting bones” (ischial tuberosities).   So it is natural to give a cue like, “roll forward towards your sitting bones to find the point of balance.”  But if you follow this cue you will only use your abdominal muscles to stabilize your torso (or your back extensors, depending on the shape of your Read more…

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