I have had a number of comments about Scaravelli-inspired yoga classes and classes focusing upon slow, careful, functional movement as being “not strong enough”. There is a yoga class for everyone and the important thing is that people practice yoga when they can, but as feelings seem to run so high I have been considering the notion of “strength”. I have also wondered how much is “enough”?
The “issue”seems to centre on “core stability”. Core Muscle Theory works on the cylinder of muscles around the inside of the abdomen – nothing wrong with that but is this “enough”? Professor Eyal Lederman in The Myth of Core Stability (2007) writes:
What is proposed here is to impose an abnormal, non-functional pattern of control to overcome a functional organisation of the neuromuscular system to injury: a protective control strategy that is as old as human evolution.
The word “strength” can also mean something less visible, perhaps less defined than a six-pack. In Teach Us To Sit Still. A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing, Tim Parks wittily charts the physical, psychological and emotional strength required to sit, quietly, in meditation. Teach Us To Sit Still. A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing.
One of the most quoted of Patañjali Sutras suggests that asana (physical yoga practice) should include the dual qualities of sthira – firmness, steadiness, and effort – and sukha– softness, openness, lightness and comfort (Book II v.46). There is an emphasis upon releasing tension, of being “at ease”. Being at ease with ourselves. In practice, this requires me to “dig deep” – to calm the nervous system, to find comfort, to quiet the mind and to remember to breath. More about “not doing” than “doing” asana. For my part – more than enough!