Friday, November 19, 2010

TV, a bad teacher of Yoga

Do you sit and perform complicated yoga postures day after day at home with only TV as your instructor? It may be time to turn the idiot box off, as experts warn that practising yoga through mass media without proper guidance can do more harm than good.

"Yoga needs very close concentration and two-way communication is essential; so the best way to perform yoga is with an instructor. The asanas (postures) and prakriyas (processes) somebody is imitating from TV may not be suitable for them and can create trouble," said Yogi Shri Ashish Chatterjee, president of Satya Foundation.

Yoga is India's traditional physical and mental discipline which is associated with meditative practices.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word which is derived from the Sanskrit root 'yuj', meaning to control, to yoke or to unite. However, in general yoga is typically associated with hatha yoga and its asanas or as a form of exercise.

Dr. Manoj Kumar, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Moolchand Hospital, New Delhi, said: "There has been quite an increase in the number of people coming with injuries caused by doing yoga in inappropriate postures as they just watch it on TV and try to imitate it."

"At least three to four patients come with such complaints every week," says Kumar.

R.S. Bhogal, principal of prominent meditation and yoga institute Kaivalyadham in Lonavala, said: "Of course, practising yoga through TV or DVD can create lots of problems as the person cannot get proper feedback and he can either overstretch or have too much contraction."

Bhogal added: "The best way to practise yoga is through one-to-one interaction, so that communication can be easy and efficient. However, it is not always possible to conduct a one-to-one yoga programme; so in my opinion the ideal ratio between instructor and student would be of 30:2 (one yoga instructor, one assistant and 30 students)."

Bhogal also feels it would not be right to practise yoga through mass media.

"The reason behind it is that these asanas have spiritual value. Though it looks like simple exercise, it is not. The different asanas lead us towards peace," Bhogal said.

Rachna Rana, an MBA student who has practised yoga through TV, said: "I was thrilled to see yoga on TV and started practising it every morning, but in a few weeks I got my knee sprained and it took long to recover."

Yash Gulati, senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, said: "One yoga posture cannot be beneficial for all kinds of people. So it is very important to consult an expert before practising, as the effectiveness of yoga depends on various factors like age, physical condition, etc."

While Chatterjee admitted that the TV has helped yoga gain popularity, he said: "TV is distorting the spiritual aspect of yoga and it is not doing any good to people; rather it is causing complications."

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