I love book reviews, making the latest outing to hear author William J. Broad discuss his book “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards” very exciting. Not to often do I venture outside my escape into fiction to read a book of science, especially one written about Yoga. Of course I read and study about this topic since I own and run a Yoga studio, but there just aren’t that many scientific books out there that discuss the research and topics that Broad chose to disclose in his most recent publication.
As soon as I sat down and the science journalist was introduced he came out swinging. Oh boy. Why such a defense tactic when the review hadn’t even started yet? And why continue through out the rest of the hour? I’ll tell you.
Broad is a great science journalist. But unfortunately this was not a science paper written to other scientists. Broad wrote a book that prompted many who love yoga to read. He wrote logic and fact but failed in his presentation throughout the chapters. The book reads back and forth from positive yoga aspects to negative (even deadly) aspects and some random facts in between. There isn’t any follow through with these stories to educate the reader how to move forward with his or her own practice. He ended up discussing most of the hate mail written to him after books were purchased and some of his responses to those letters, but never was able to answer the questions that the audience asked throughout the review. You see, he just wrote research and facts. Nothing more. If someone asked how he or she could find a good and well-trained teacher he didn’t have an answer. When someone asked what inversions they should allow in their practice. He still couldn’t answer. When someone asked how do you know you are practicing safely, his answer was I have been practicing over 30 years. Was that an answer?
Each piece of research studied is exactly that. One piece. If you are going to write a book and state the research for an audience eager to learn most expect people follow up on how to avoid these injuries, sensations to notice, explanations of the ego and why you are responsible for your own body. Discuss how bodies differ and what to look for to educate your audience. However, this just isn’t how Broad communicates. For most this was really upsetting.
In 2009 I read an article that described a women who fractured her hip running a marathon. I won’t forget thinking I was so glad she shared her story, but that everyone is different and there are hundreds of thousand of people every year crossing the finish line with out a fractured hip. In this article she also explained what signs to look for when experiencing bone density deterioration, the amount of calcium needed for my age and sex, what precautions to take if I am running marathons, even changes that may occur after giving birth that is necessary knowledge for staying safe on the pavement.
In the end I thank Broad for the research he shared. This knowledge can only lead to more awareness. I understand that it is my challenge, which I gladly accept, to explain the follow through that wasn’t written to each and every client that walks through the door. And I support and congratulate every great instructor out there in this fight with me to bring great… no… exceptional yoga to all those searching!