by Kara-Leah Grant
Matthew Remski is a yoga teacher, writer, Ayurveda practitioner therapist and author of Threads of Yoga – A Remix of Patanjali’s Sutras.
For years he’s been concerned about injuries in yoga, but had not been concerned enough.
Like many of us, he believed that yoga injuries were the result of poor instruction on the part of the teacher, or overwork on the part of the student.
But over time, Matthew began to notice that even well-instructed poses, executed mindfully, could also be injurious.
After a conversation with his wife about yoga and injury, Matthew decided to do some research, which as come to be known as: WAWADIA | What Are We Actually Doing In Asana?
In January of 2014, he posted a request to the yogis of Facebook to contact him with their stories of injuries sustained through yoga.
This was the message he initially posted:
Dear Facebook yoga practitioners –
I’m doing some research into asana-related injuries for an upcoming writing project. I would like to gather formal interview subjects, but also to hear, via private message whatever details you care to disclose. If you’d like to be an interview subject (Skype), let me know by personal message. Please do not use the comment function below.
By “asana-related injury” I mean any type of tissue damage, diagnosed or not, acute or mild, with sudden or gradual onset, that you believe was directly caused by performing asanas or vinyasa to the best of your ability, and according to the instruction you received.
This project is about looking for untold stories and unexamined trends, and will be dedicated to the enrichment of the community as a whole.
I understand that the subjective quality of the reporting is unavoidable. Unless your orthopaedic surgeon has told you that your labrum tear, for instance, was directly caused by a certain repeated femoral movement, all that you as the injured person would have to report is a strong suspicion of causality. Navigating and respecting that subjectivity is part of my study.
My focus here is not upon injuries resulting from improper adjustments from instructors. I’m more interested in surveying the tools we have as students and teachers to assess the value of a particular movement, if it is possibly injurious to a particular student. There has been a lot of good work recently done by those who want to encourage safer asana practice and education. I think I might have something to add to this very positive and forward-looking effort.
The research will only make its way into publication with details protected by strict anonymity with regard to the circumstances of the injury described, and only by permission of the interview subjects.
Please share widely if so moved. Thanks!
Matthew was instantly flooded with responses and received many long, very personal emails telling incredible stories of pain, injury, confusion, and long journeys of healing.
He’s since been updating his progress in a series of articles (see below) and is working towards a book.
In this interview we talk about why he’s doing this project, how we might move forward together to fulfil yoga’s therapeutic promise, and cultural attitudes and trappings that get in the way.
Matthew Remski on:
What Are We Really Doing in Asana?