8.24.2013

Do you know what pains me?

*Good morning, all.  So I slept on it, and I wish to apologize to anyone who, for whatever reason, is taking this post personally.  The message is meant to be a positive one, to bring us all out of the dark and into the light, so to speak, regarding safe and appropriate ways to use the body and, more pointedly, to represent the practice of asana.  Mermaid pose, done safely, is quite lovely.  But, clearly, there has been and continues to be a major failing to teach this posture correctly.  The prevalence of images like the few I've shared here, which I selected at random from a google search for "mermaid pose," is an expression of skewed priorities and the degradation of what should be a safe and sustainable practice.  Can we all agree to move forward with this awareness and treat our bodies with respect?

Love, light, and lifelong practice,
Megan


This:
Ouch!

And this:


 And this:
Are you hurting yet? 

 And this:

 And this:
Oh god, my knees!

 And this:
Getting a good stretch?

And this:
Chest forward!

And this:
Crunch!  Nice background, though...

And this:
Oh boy...

And this:
The humanity!

Ok, folks.  Listen.  I know we've all decided that "Mermaid pose" (a variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) is sexy, but this isn't it.  This is a back crunching, side spasming, knee tweaking abomination.  Stop it. 

I am so tired of seeing people in this posture who have no business being there.  They're all over magazines and blogs, apparel catalogs and facebook, and nearly every newbie teacher's website.  Enough already.  Work on your backbends.  Open your shoulders and hips.  Let's reconvene after a few years of daily practice, shall we?

Ah... that's better.

If you are one of the women pictured and you wish to have your photo removed, email megan@damngoodyoga.com.  Then go do your practice.

19 comments:

  1. But some of them *do* look open enough, no?

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    1. Open enough to do the posture correctly? Perhaps. Then why aren't they?

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    2. I'll answer my own question: because media and the throngs of inexperienced teachers churned out of yoga teacher mills have decided this is the best way to make money.

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    3. Addendum: And because it's easier.

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  2. Can you post a "how to" for this pose? It's funny that I just started working again on this one and could use the advice! I apologiZe if I missed a previous post...

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    1. Hello Valley Vegan. This posture is a great start: http://www.damngoodyoga.com/2010/12/asana-of-week-eka-pada-rajakapotasana.html

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    2. Thank you!!

      By the way, did you see the latest Athleta catalog? (March 2014) There are, I kid you not, 5 "attempts" at this pose within it's pages. My cousin is a dancer and like me wonders why they don't find models that actually model the poses correctly. The advertisers clearly don't understand their audience. :)

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  3. You're such a purist Megan! If the internal rotation is perfect, and the bandhas are on I quite like "mermaid pose". I teach it occasionally because some students can access it who cannot come close to "queen pigeon".

    But most of those pics were poorly aligned, and yeah, it hurts to look at collapsed poses.

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    1. Hi Michelle. It's good to hear from you. Indeed, I am a purist when being otherwise means torn meniscus and damage to the sacrum. These are injuries that never truly heal. You are an experienced, knowledgable teacher and I trust that you are teaching the posture to your students safely. Carry on. ;)

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  4. brave post. I agree with what you are saying.

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  5. Hi Megan, it is really great to see that you are exposing the truth behind so many fake yoga poses and pictures.To make quick money people post so many fake pictures which are either photo shopped or done by some other software and many people fall in their trap. This is really bad for Yoga. I salute you for showing the courage to expose this in spite of the risk that you may lose a few followers or may be even a few students. However, the mental peace which you can achieve through honesty the same can never be reached through dishonest means. This is divine to me. Keep up with the great work. Always with you and behind you for the sake of truth like a student and a younger brother.

    Respect & Regards
    CA Abhishek Sanyal

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    1. Thank you, Abhishek. I am touched by your words.

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    2. You are most welcome sister. The way you have helped me in my journey of Ashthanga is unforgettable. I am still grateful to you for the valuable suggestion you provided for my father. You are so compassionate and kind.

      Regards
      CA Abhishek Sanyal

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  6. Agreed. Depending on your style and education; proper alignment and execution of the asana is critical to the benefits of practice. I noticed the Drishti is all over the place in those photos as well. I am a larger man 6'1" 200lbs; and it took a full year of 5 days a week Ashtanga class before I was even close to pulling this off.
    As far as the glut of Yoga "teachers" coming out of 200 hr certifications: let them come and go. We have all had classes with sub standard teachers. At least the lululemon fashionista "yogis" will pump some much needed money into the studios and teachers hands. It is beneficial to just keep it simple. The purpose of Yoga is Yoga.

    Warm Regards-
    David Meek

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  7. My sentiments exactly. Well said.

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  8. Now that I have read this post I laugh while browsing Instagram pictures of this pose. Well, laugh and cringe.

    thank you

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  9. I have a question. What if the practitioner butchering poses like this is a friend of yours? Or worse, their teacher?

    I am a recent Ashtanga convert and I attend Mysore-style classes. I can't pretend I can do even half of primary, but I know my limits. I am particularly aware of the dangers/risks of injury, as I am currently in med school.

    My good friend has been happily attending a particular teacher's class for 5+ years. This morning, my usual shala was very out of my way, so I dropped in on an "Ashtanga" class at her studio. It. Was. Carnage.

    Almost all the people there were doing very, very bad attempts at the full, unmodified versions of poses. People without a hint of a lotus doing Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. Navasana with the entire sacrum on the mat. It was terrible to the point of being upsetting, never mind distracting.

    I can't do half-lotus yet, so I don't. I work on hip openers instead. The teacher wanted me to yank my ankle onto my thigh with the knee open to 90 degrees, push the bend knee down, and then forward bend, touching the forehead to the shin. She was visibly angry when I wouldn't even try. I could hardly start in with "Well David Swenson and my orthopedic surgery professor say..."

    So what do I do? Do I say something to my friend? It's so awkward! Her teacher has 1000+ hours of teacher training!

    Any advice very welcome!

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