alan little’s weblog

no quick fix

28th September 2004 permanent link

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I had concerns that yoga “therapy” could lead to a short term, quick fix orientation that is foreign to real yoga practice, and was sceptical about whether such short term, quick fixes can actually work. Here, however is an article in Yoga Journal by Elise Browning Miller, who is a yoga teacher specialising in helping students with scoliosis (curvature of the spine). No danger of a quick fix mentality here:

The decision to do yoga to remediate a scoliosis entails a lifetime commitment to a process of self-discovery and growth. For many people, this kind of commitment is intimidating. It's tempting to turn instead to an orthopedic surgeon, who will "fix" a back by fusing it and get rid of the pain forever. Unfortunately, this operation results in a virtually immobile spine and frequently fails to alleviate the pain. I taught one teenage student with an extreme scoliosis who, weary of struggling with her yoga practice, gave up and had her back fused. To her dismay, her pain persisted, and she had even less mobility than before. When the rod in her back broke, she had it removed rather than replaced, and she returned to her yoga practice with a renewed and deeper commitment.

Choosing the path of self-discovery rather than surgery requires not only commitment but inner awareness. Guidance from a competent teacher is helpful, but awareness of our own bodies is crucial--no famous guru can fix our backs for us, any more than an orthopedic surgeon can. Only through our own constant awareness and loving attention can we transform our discomfort into a guide that helps us to get in touch with our bodies.

The goal of yoga practice should not be to straighten our backs; we must learn to accept them as they are, not deny them or judge them. Instead, we must work to understand our backs and to relate to them with sensitivity and awareness. Healing is much more than straightening a scoliosis, or curing a disease. It is learning to love and nurture ourselves and trust our inner knowing to guide us to a vibrant state of being.

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