Yoga can be bad for you if you have an preexisting health condition and through the practice of certain positions your condition becomes worse. It is the role of the teacher to keep you safe. There has been a lot of research into Asana (Yoga postures), and with the guidance of Osteopaths and other body work specialists there is no reason why anyone’s health should be compromised when practicing Yoga.
This question is more about the Yoga teacher than Yoga itself. I would say that Yoga per se is not dangerous. One of the reasons why Yoga has persisted throughout the millennia is that it is broad enough to meet you at your level. That might be as a dynamic form of exercise or an sojourn into the mystical.
Today it is possible to get a qualification in almost anything via the internet. We have to be careful to make sure that the person whose hands we we are putting our health into has the capacity to look after us.
Pain Vs Discomfort
Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong. We should practice with a keen awareness of this. There is often a misconception of Yoga that it is an overly soft and generally fluffy experience – nothing could be further from the truth! The role of discomfort is central to an authentic experience of Yoga. Often in life; we have to be roused into taking notice and it is no different in Yoga. Discomfort prompts action and change. This catalyst can stimulate us and show us a great deal about ourselves. Usually the discomfort is short lived and we reach the other shore far richer for the experience.
The role of Yoga teacher
It is the responsibility of the Yoga teacher to come to a deeper knowledge of his/her students. Some form of preliminary examination must be undertaken at the outset, and a course of instruction be prepared that will target the needs of the student. This takes time.
You can also expect the teacher to set the atmosphere of the class and you can expect to be safe, comfortable and free of overbearing judgement. If over time you are not experiencing a greater sense of equanimity and concern for others it may be time to see what else is going on in the Yoga community around you.
The role of the student
We are all students of Yoga. I have yet to meet a Yoga teacher that will say they have completed their learning. It is with this spirit of exploration that we must approach the mat.
As students we have to do the best that we can. That means accepting the limitations of our body on some days. It also means listening and watching out for an over eagerness to achieve a posture. No posture is there to be conquered. We are never competing with ourselves, we are however; testing, probing and exploring with gentle awareness to see where we end up. Finally, as students we are there to delve into our own practice, never to catch the attention of those around us.
This post merely touches the very surface of this discussion. If you have an opinion that you would like to share please feel free to contribute your thoughts.