The 5000(+)-Year-Old Game of Telephone

Remember Telephone? The game where one person whispers a phrase into the ear of the person next to them, and that person whispers to the next person, and so on and so on until the message reaches the end of the circle…usually bearing little to no resemblance to the original?

Now imagine that game being played for 5000 years or more. And you’ve got yoga.

It’s hard, therefore, to assert that any pose (or philosophical interpretation or pranayama or meditation or…) can be correct or incorrect. And far be it from me to claim to be any sort of ultimate authority on the matter.

As far as I’m concerned, there are no ultimate authorities. Not Sri Dharma Mittra–my idol. Not Bikram Choudhury–the antithesis of my idol. Not Sri Patabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, or any other yogi you can name.

But what there is, is a modern-day understanding of what is safe and what isn’t safe.

Yoga asana has evolved tremendously in the last decade or two (thank you, internet!), with new poses being invented and adopted all the time. It seems there are now three schools: Classical, Neo-Classical which melds Classical foundations with modern-day flair, and Whatever-The-Heck-I-Want-To-Call-Yoga-Is-Yoga.

The problem with the third school is that is assumes aesthetics as its base without regard to the actual science of the practice. Much of it relies on that big old game of Telephone that corrupts the message more and more with each instructor until there is only a kernel of yoga left, and it’s like one of those burnt, unpopped kernels that lies at the bottom of your popcorn bowl. You know, the one that breaks your tooth when you bite into it…?

That being said, I have taught classes and workshops to thousands of students all over the world and it seems they all got the same nasty little kernel in every corner of the globe. It’s time to pop the kernel once and for all!

This isn’t about being right, it’s just about being smart and safe.

So…are you making this same mistake?

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