Is yoga a religion? Do you have to be flexible to practice? Can you really “detoxify your liver” with twists? Kat and guest host Michael Carlucci weigh in on these and other prevalent misconceptions about yoga.
In this episode we discuss:
- Kat's article: “Five Untrue Facts About Yoga”
“You have to be “flexible” to practice yoga.”
- Jenni Rawlings' awesome article on hypermobility vs. flexibility
- Hypermobility and tightness can co-exist.
- Being “super-bendy” can make you more vulnerable to injury.
- There are poses that require us to go beyond our normal range of motion in order to achieve the “full expression.” Should we not practice those poses? Cost/benefit; comparison to other disciplines.
- Yoga is not just about flexibility, there's a major strength component at play too.
The Detox Myths
“Twists detoxify/'wring out' your liver.”/dishcloth analogy
- You can’t just squeeze out last night’s margaritas.
- Guardian article “Demystifying Detox: Can Yoga Really Cleanse the Liver?” by Nicole Slavin (January 2014)
- Twists and digestion: Amy Matthews Interview
- What about prana? Are we talking physiology, or are we talking energy and/or emotions? Important to be clear what we're talking about when we use terms like “detox” or “cleanse” so we don't mislead students.
“Sweating Out” Toxins
- Let’s talk about sweat, baby!
Apocrine Glands: Located in concentrated areas of the body (like your armpits and groin). They’re activated when we’re stressed, and secrete sweat that’s mainly comprised of water and fat (and tends to produce a noticeable odor once it comes in contact with the bacteria on your skin).
Eccrine Glands: Cover most of your body. Almost entirely water, plus small amounts of salts, urea, and carbohydrates. Main purpose is to cool your body, not unload toxins.
- ”Is Your Yoga Teacher Full of It?: On Perspiration and Misinformation” by Richard Pallardy
- What's up with the urea? Study: “Uric acid and urea in human sweat”
- Related: Cool Buzzfeed article about what happens to your body during a juice cleanse.
“Yoga is a religion”
- What are we talking about when we’re talking about “yoga”? Postures? Meditation? Philosophy? None of those are actually religion.
- Important to be clear about our intentions as teachers.
- Christian yoga and Christian alternatives to yoga. Are they yoga? Does it matter?
- Al Jazeera Correspondent Series documentary that we mentioned:
- Yoga as a philosophy.
- You don’t have to embrace the aspects of yoga or philosophy that you are not comfortable with. You can just do the practices. Specific beliefs not required!
- Interesting Yoga Journal panel
“Yoga is “just exercise.”
Hatha yoga texts: Hatha Yoga Pradikpia, Gheranda Samhita, Shiva Samhita, and purpose of practice.
The Inversion Myths
“Headstand and/or shoulderstand are essential to every yoga practice.”
- J. Brown's thought-provoking “King and Queen of Yoga Dethroned” article
- Inversions are often hyped up as essential, super-beneficial/important, but they can also lead to injury (even if “well aligned”), and all of the hype/talk of their importance can make it hard to stop practicing, even when they’re hurting us.
- The order in which we teach them: headstand/shoulderstand are “easier” to get into, but MUCH riskier than handstand and forearm stand.
Do inversions “increase blood flow to the brain”?
Should you avoid inversions on your period?
- Two main reasons often given to avoid inversions: apana vayu and endometriosis. Important to be clear if you're not talking about physiology.
- “There’s No Reason to Skip Headstands During Your Period” By Lizzie Wade
- We'd LOL'd (and learned from) Katie J. M. Baker's “Yes You Can Do Yoga on Your Period.”
“You have to be thin/young/not a dude to do yoga/advanced asana.”
- Nope! Yoga is for everybody (hooray!). Emily and Kat covered this topic in detail in Yoga Talk Podcast Episode 1: Does Yoga Have a Body Image Problem?
Send your comments, questions, and future show ideas to: YogaTalk@yogainternational.com
Our intro and outro is “Namaste Nation” by The Householders. Listen to the whole thing on their Soundcloud page