Friday, June 09, 2006


padmasana abuse & thanks to peter g

hello flickr yoga peeps! how nice of you to stop by to visit my aging sun salutations rant.

in just a minute, i'll have another yoga rant to amuse you -- 3 shocking things i've seen in classes this week concerning padmasana, lotus pose. but before i go off on how i see teachers attempt to destroy otherwise innocent knees or let students' desire for attainment detonate them themselves, let's talk about about coffee.

lemme first thank peter g. of counterculture with all the enthusiasm i can muster for sending me his new ethiopian yrg, the ambessa. this certified organic, fair-trade coffee is roast dated the 6th.

this will be hitting the chemex first thing tomorrow. long-time readers know yrg is one of my most favorite origins.

but today i enjoyed andrew's ecco coffee from yesterday, his c.o.e. winner, the são benedito in said chemex.

it's just the same beautiful floral cup with caramel and dutch cocoa i recall. i had 2 for breakfast. . .yummy, and highly recommended.

it's an excellent answer to those who still think all brazils are only cheap coffees that deserve to be buried in a blend. double thanks to you, andrew!

now for that padmasana rant. first let me note that it's difficult to even find a picture of a correct "safe" lotus pose: here's a nice one of bks iyengar in a proper lotus.

(tho' truth be told, it looks to me as if one knee is slightly off the floor. someone get a blanket for guruji, there, ok? that knee needs support, in my book.)

i'm not one who runs around saying that there is a perfect alignment or form for every pose. but some pose forms are better, are safer, than others.

it's all too common to see people -- even yoga teachers who should know better -- do lotus in an often unsafe manner. instead of keep the legs in a right angle as they move into the pose to protect the knees, the try to slip in by flexing the knees.

you will also see people who keep their knees too wide apart, or who let their knees float above the floor! ouch!

once there you will often see that they have to twist their ankles in a hundred painful ways -- this is called "sickling" your ankles and will over time pose the threat of injury to the ankle.

as you can see from the nice pic of bks above, a better lotus has the knees relatively close together, on the floor, with the feet square, nicely flexed and resting high up in the crease of the hip.

it's just amazing how many people try to put themselves into a dangerous form of this pose, where they don't belong. and this week i did sadly witness an otherwise good teacher near-bully another teacher into a bound lotus, when the second teacher knew she didn't belong there.

later she even confessed to me her anxiety in allowing herself to be put there. "why did you do it, then?" i asked her.

"everyone was looking at me, and the way [the class teacher] kept telling me i could do it. . ." she said. dear readers, don't let peer or teacher pressure happen to you.

not everyone belongs in lotus. it's not safe for people with knee or hip problems.

not everyone is going to get to lotus in this lifetime, if ever. but that aside, if lotus is ok for you, there's no need to rush.

you have years and years to get there, and even more years afterward to enjoy it. so please, i beg you all, if you are interested in lotus, please practice a safe prep series diligently and with extra patience.

always move slowly, mindfully, and breathe. if you can't move mindfully in and out of lotus, you don't belong there.

seriously.

on two other occasions this week i saw teachers sit idly by while students rushed into lotus in a dangerous way. one woman actually leaned backwards into a sort-of navasana and grabbed her feet.

then, coming forward, using momentum, she shoved one set of toes into her opposite hip crease, and then repeated the process on the other side.

finally she let herself fall (bang!) so her knees hit the floor and she sat up in a bizarre twisted "lotus," her knees very wide, her ankles twisted 90 degrees, only her toe-tips touching the edges of her thighs. the soles of her feet were nearly flat open to the ceiling.

i actually gasped with fear for her as i watched her do this to herself. the teacher sat idly on and gave no instruction on safety or proper movement into the pose.

the third piece of padmasana abuse i saw was a teacher adjust a student into lotus and walk away. how was this person, who couldn't get into lotus by themselves, then supposed to get out safely, with no aid or supervision?

because i have knee issues, lotus isn't on my list right now. if and when my knees get better, then i might think about whether lotus could be useful for me.

and i would expect to spend erich schiffmann's recommended year or two to get there. hey: i didn't learn to stand on my head until i was 38.

i can check out lotus when i'm 45 or something. since i plan to still be doing yoga when i'm oh, 70, i could start prepping at age 50. that would give me plenty of time to learn lotus and enjoy it, literally decades.

there's no rush to get this pose, which has to be one of the most injurious to new yoga students. almost every serious yoga practitioner knows someone who has injured themselves playing with lotus.

don't let it be you!

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posted by fortune | 8:34 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 3 comments

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