Yoga in Africa

I enjoyed this interview and photo essay with photographer/artist Robert Sturman, who’s documented the practice of yoga in Africa:

Q: Are there differences in the practice of yoga in Kenya and the United States?

A. In Kenya, people walk out of yoga class feeling great, just like they do in New York. The one difference I loved, however, was that the children who took the classes always broke out into a spontaneous song or dance right in the middle of class. Then they would go back to the yoga postures.
Q.Speaking about the children in the photos, several of your most striking photos were taken in orphanages. How do these children benefit from yoga?
A. Through the practice of yoga, the children are given the opportunity to express themselves, be creative and open up physically and mentally. It was most apparent to me that by the time their hourlong class is over, they feel loved.
You can learn more about the Africa Yoga Program here, a nonprofit organization that teaches and employs more than 70 local yoga teachers and conducts up to 300 free yoga classes for more than 5,000 people weekly.

The Dangers of Yoga

In the latest issue of New York Times Magazine, we learn about the dangers of yoga:

…A number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems. Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga’s exploding popularity — the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 — means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury. “Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”

Seems like The Times is starting off the year with some controversial health articles. I highlighted “The Fat Trap” previously.