Glenn Black Responds to the Yoga Backlash

Finally, one of the men in the center of the debate’s inception, Glenn Black, is responding to backlash.  We think you should read his entire interview.  As always when reading anything we continue to advocate that you do so with your own mind and critical thinking.  There are many statements that we agree with and some that we do not.  What follows below are some of our favorite quotes (our commentary in bold).


Sad the reactions he’s been receiving and how ego seems to be responsible for the de-evolution of yoga in the United States.
Joking, he told me that, among hundreds of emails, he was receiving death threats — the Timesarticle doesn’t fully illuminate his uniquely wry sense of humor.
It is important to acknowledge the true damage on all levels that yoga can do when ego surpasses awareness and wisdom, when asana and goals trump deeply listening to the body, when yoga styles and methods are uncompromising, and when inexperienced or misguided yoga teachers lead bodies living modern lifestyles into places they are not prepared to go.


We agree that in many of the group yoga classes we have seen there is a lack of using the joints in a balanced way, as Glenn Black points out.  But we tend to shy away from saying “NEVER do” to pretty much anything.  Because every body is different, we have have rarely come across a “never” situation.
GGB: Chaturangas are the worst things for shoulder problems and create repetitive use syndrome. Putting weight on a joint, one side is always stronger than the other, one side will eventually pay a price, one will compress more, one will stay open, some ligaments will tighten up, others will loosen…Deep knee flexion with weight is not so good for anybody, especially Americans who don’t use their knees correctly. To put a knee in a rotational situation puts strain on ligaments and tendons. Sitting poses are hard on hips, where external rotation is limited. Tissues don’t want to do it. Never do headstand, shoulder stand, or plow.


We can all benefit from this advice.
If a student is a total neophyte or even has some experience, the instruction is to be careful and listen to yourself.


Super awesome!
EF: What do you think about the backlash that is coming from the statements you make in the New York Times article? It’s all over blogs, Facebook and the news. A lot of yoga teachers are saying now that they do in fact teach in a way that avoids injuries, and others are clearly feeling threatened that their livelihoods are in jeopardy, that it will discourage new students from trying yoga.
GGB: They are not teaching yoga. They are teaching physical exercise. They can do it in any gym. Yoga is an art and a science, and if you take just one small aspect, you never get to the higher end of it. Yoga is not taught correctly by many people.

Ah, yes, the result of an ego-motivated practice.  Don’t be an asshole.

Most people have a limited view of yoga and approach it as a physical discipline, that’s what can make it mediocre. Awareness and consciousness are no longer emphasized, and yoga somehow became relegated to physical exercise. You need to do in-depth, serious practice in pranayama and yoga nidra, and hope for higher stages of yoga to happen. Now, everybody takes what they want, but it really gets back to the yamas and the niyamas. If someone’s an asshole, it doesn’t matter how he does the pose, he’s still gonna be an asshole.

Love this! The difference between physical exercise and hatha yoga.
It is a myth that it’s safe to do asana without awareness and consciousness.

Hmmmm, more debate coming about this for sure!  But the truth is that certifications and trainings will only get you so far.  Many hours of actual experience in real-life situations where results are proven time and again make the cut, not pieces of paper.  Education is important, the right kind is essential, but application is key.
Those certificates they get even for 500 hours are worthless, because like in bodywork, unless somebody has a gift or innate understanding or depth of experience, they will just regurgitate what they have learned and apply it to the situations they are presented with. True ability comes from actually doing the practice.

So where do you go for REAL Yoga?! We have a few places to recommend in NYC:
Allison West
Amy Matthews
Genny Kapular
Leslie Kaminoff