The Pose Is Never The Problem…Or Is It?

By Zach Spafford

With regards to discussions in the yogasphere on potentially injurious contortions being fetishized and romanticized via social media, you might hear someone say “The Pose is Never the Problem”.

In the context of the delicate nature of the issue at hand, this statement is a major problem.

When referring to a video or image of an extreme end of range contortion and the impact that video has on the all too often impressionable general yoga public, should we be tossing around definitive sounding assertions that the pose that injures, is somehow separate form the injury?

Isn’t that a bit like the bumper sticker aphorism “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people?

A rational mind will easily observe that you cannot remove the guns from the people killing people with guns scenario. The whole of this scenario consists of the gun wielder, the conditions, and the gun. Remove one, and the event doesn’t occur.

Likewise, a rational mind will observe that you cannot remove the pose from the people getting injured from attempting extreme end of range poses scenario. The whole of this scenario consists of the practitioner, the conditions, and the pose. Similarly, if you remove one, the event (injury) does not occur.

“The pose is never the problem…. ” This is only true in the absence of the practitioner and the conditions accompanying the pose, in which case, the pose isn’t the problem because it doesn’t happen. In a discussion concerning injuries that occurred as result of a pose, this statement is a non-sequitur.

So, aren’t these types of statements likely to impact the observer at first glance as a categorical absolute, thereby acting as a substitute for rational examination of the feat they are about to attempt to perform?

What is the impact of this sort of statement on someone eager to achieve or impress by way of Instagram/ social media goggles, but who lacks the skill and body awareness to approach said posture with caution?

In relation to a injury caused by a pose, the pose is ALWAYS the problem.

Some will say it’s not our job to police yoga. I would ask those people if they think its not our job to police our own neighborhoods when our GLBT neighbors are getting jumped in alleys walking to their cars? Is it not our job to police the police when minorities are being beaten in routine traffic stops? How about the Water Protectors? Would you relieve them of their right to police those who seek to pollute and desecrate their land?

As a yoga community,

Is it ‘policing’ to care for our own?

Is it ‘policing’ to advocate for the wellbeing of the general population?

Is it ‘policing’ to hold those with greater influence to higher standards of accountability?

I see yogis taking stands against all sorts of civil, social, public, political, ills. But its like pulling teeth to get them take a stand on simple issues within our own (gag) ‘industry’.

If you’re not comfortable policing yoga then substitute ‘policing’ with ‘protesting’ and join us as we protest the feckless proliferation of flashy and misleading imagery via social media.

When painful and debilitating injuries occur as the result of extreme end of range asana, the pose is always part of the problem.

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