Thursday, January 5, 2012

POSTURE / 2011 

Dear Friends,

The purpose of this blog is to make available to a larger audience my posts, mainly in the IIT Global Current Affairs Group and a few other groups.

Most of these posts refer you to the store house of knowledge - The Word Wide Web. A few of the posts are also my 'bright?' ideas.

This blog is for posts in the category 'Posture'. 


6.1 Efficient use of mind and body (18/12/2011)
6.2 The x position (17/12/2011)
6.3 The once and future way to run (7/11/11)
6.4 Postural health and environment (6/11/11)
6.5 Too good to be true (3/11/11)

6.6 The human body is a balancing machine (18/10/11)
6.7 Pain study to focus on Posture and acupuncture techniques (13/10/11)
6.8 Cover BMJ (Rolfing picture)(2/10/11)
6.9 When back and down is forward and down (24/9/11)
6.10 The super sandwich model (14/9/11)

6.11 Schools should do more to prevent bad posture inchildren (7/9/11)
6.12 Luxation of the Atlas (26/8/11)
6.13 The spine’s design (25/8/11)
6.14 Cheap substitute for the Alexander Technique (26/8/11)
6.15 iPad Neck (11/8/11)

6.16 Children learning to write (8/8/11)
6.17 Our ancestors climbed like an ape but walked like a man (1/8/11)
6.18 “Text Neck” (25/7/11)
6.19 Human grace (19/7/11)
6.20 Posture 360 (18/7/11)

6.21 Barefoot running and proprioception (29/6/11)
6.22 Endgaining, mirror neurons (21/6/11)
6.23 Getting older much earlier (23/5/11)
6.24 Beware, beware the ‘ergonomic’ computer chair (16/5/11)
6.25 A new class of clients (12/5/11)

6.26 Problems with bicycles! (7/5/11)
6.27 Free your feet change your life (23/4/11)
6.28 Correcting a 50,000 year old mistake (A fresh model for the human body) (20/3/11)
6.29 Good posture video (27/2/11)
6.30 Orthotics (20/1/11)
6.31 Perspectives on Yoga (14/1/11)

 POSTURE - 2012


  6.1  Efficient use of mind and body

Dear Friends, 
As you know, humans face multiple challenges - paucity of resources, loss of biodiversity, environment in distress, general problems of health, Global Warming .... It is important therefore that every individual should attempt to be as efficient as possible in the use of his mind and body.
In this regard, I have a few basic questions:
In India the farmers get up early in the morning (as early as four I think - they go to sleep early), and go about their work, tending cows, milking them, working in the farm..
On the other hand, many educated people get up early in the morning and meditate, take exercise, read the newspaper ...
In the morning when we wake up, the body is well rested and the brain is fresh: the questions are:
1. Should we waste this early morning freshness on meditation? Will it not be better if meditation is done in the evening some time?
2. Should we waste this early morning freshness in taking exercise? Will it be better to take exercise in the evening?
3. When the brain is fresh and ready to go, should we divert it by reading the newspaper? Will it not be better to read the newspaper in the evening? 
In other words, is not early morning the best time to get engaged with our primary work?
6.2  The x position

Dear All, 

I have been struggling for the last six months trying to solve problems with my left knee (this is a much longer time than what I spent in solving problems with my spine - a total of one month).
... Shows how important the lower half of the body is integrating our posture.
My knee is improving rapidly and I am now more convinced than ever that there is an 'x position' in which the whole skeletal system will become 'free', like we notice in all animals.
Also, I am now reasonably certain that it should be possible using computer model to prove that such an 'x position' exists.
This begs the question, what are so many scientists with their computer models doing?
(And if they are not able to properly model the human body, how the heck are they going to properly model a more complex phenomenon like climate change?)
6.3  The Once and Future Way to Run

.. When he tried to spread the word, however, he encountered resistance. At a Runner’s World forum I attended before the Boston Marathon in April 2010, he told the story of how he bounced back from a lifetime of injuries by learning to run barefoot and relying on his legs’ natural shock absorption. Martyn Shorten, the former director of the Nike Sports Research Lab who now conducts tests on shoes up for review in Runner’s World, followed him to the microphone. “A physician talking about biomechanics — I guess I should talk about how to perform an appendectomy,” Shorten said. He then challenged Cucuzzella’s belief that cushioned shoes do more harm than good.
6.4  Postural health and environment

Posted in another discussion group.
There appears to be an urgent need to relate posture improvement techniques to the needs of various professions, and to grade the likely hood of developing bad posture to the activities involved. More thought needs to be paid to the redesign of environments in which people work:
Relatively safe environments:
1. ACTING .... generally, people will tend to look up.
2. SPORTS, SUCH AS BADMINTON AND VOLLEYBALL ... line of sight is higher up.
3. HOLIDAY AND SIGHT SEEING ... you will tend to look up - good for unwinding.
Relatively unsafe environments:
1. THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH CHILDREN STUDY ... urgent need for redesign
2. USE OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS ... Is it necessary to look at the keys when playing a piano? Some thought needs to be given to the redesign of musical instruments.
3. KITCHEN WORK DONE STANDING UP ... Out of the box thinking required to improve the kitchen environment. In older kitchens in India the pots and pans used to be hung at eye level - not very tidy, but functional. In modern kitchens, these seem to be in kept in drawers below the counter; making for a neater kitchen but posturally speaking, a design where you will be forced to look down more often. 
4. THE DENTAL PROFESSION .. Out the box thinking required ...
6.5  Too good to be true

Toning shoes, made by numerous companies including Reebok, New Balance and Crocs, are popular among women and girls because they seem like a simple way to become tone and thin. However, the damage these shoes can cause outweigh any benefits — which studies have shown are negligible.
The American College of Sports Medicine released a report in June that showed muscle activation and oxygen consumption were virtually the same whether women wore Skechers Shape-ups or not.
A similar study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found the number of calories burned were the same whether subjects wore ordinary athletic shoes or toning shoes.
Toning shoes also might lead to posture problems and poor proprioception — or the body’s ability to detect subtle changes in movement, position, and force thus protecting us from injury.
... Rather than forcing the body to work in an abnormal pattern, it is far better to let it work as it was designed, with as minimal a shoe as possible.
Which explains why minimalist shoes and barefoot running have also become popular.
Many experts believe these are far better for the body because they allow the foot to work as it is designed. These shoes don’t push the body forward, helping to keep your eyes on the horizon. As your eyes go, so too will the rest of your body. If your head and neck are balanced, the more likely the rest of your body will be in proper alignment too.

6.6  The human body is a balancing machine

Dear Friends,
Let’s advance our ideas on Posture ( further.
In this connection let me tell you a story. In the organisation I worked in, the first major product I designed was a Low Speed Vertical Dynamic Balancing Machine. It became necessary to design and fabricate this machine (if possible), as the only other option at the time was to take the rather flexible and fragile device that was to be balanced to a European country to conduct the necessary operations. I had never designed a machine of this sort before and so had to work up from first principles. After two years of work I even dumped a full set of fabrication drawings, since I was not too happy with the design and decided to start all over again.  
… The machine was fabricated and it was time to test the machine; a protocol had to be set up for this purpose. In this regard, I had an interesting tussle with the head of Quality Assurance, with me (a junior engineer) insisting that a balanced system provides its own frame of reference and there was no necessity to mount a pre-balanced test hardware to calibrate the accuracy of the machine. The head of Q/A disagreed, and the pow-wow (of a friendly nature), with only the two of us present in a room, continued for almost half an hour, with me unwilling to concede any ground … Eventually we did test with a test hardware – only to simulate the inertial properties of the final object to be balanced, not to independently calibrate the accuracy of the balancing machine.
(Our team was awarded one of the National Research and Development Corporation awards for the Year 1977)
Similar to the dynamic balancing machine discussed above, the human body is effectively a balancing machine: 
1. It is fully equipped to achieve a high level of balance.
2. No external frame of reference is required to determine whether our bodies are properly balanced or not.
3. If we know how to go about it, we can continuously fine tune this balance - after figuring out how to achieve proper coarse balance. Please visit and independently examine my suspicion that adult humans are balancing their heads in the wrong direction, leading to locking of the musculoskeletal system.
4. Human adults are not able to achieve proper balance because they are doing a number of things that are wrong - in addition to attempting to balance their bodies in the wrong direction. (Please visit the second page website. Do also visit htttp:// )
5. People having improper body balance (which is 99% of adults), will be achieving a balance of sorts, in which large parts of the body are lumped together, without the fine differentiation that the body is capable of. 

Something to get your posture humming:


6.7  Pain study to focus on posture and acupunctur
e techniques

Dr MacPherson, a senior research fellow said: “Despite decades of research, few advances have been made in treating chronic neck pain. While there is already some evidence suggesting that acupuncture and Alexander technique lessons might benefit patients, it is insufficient for a definite conclusion.
“Our research will provide further data which will help patients, practitioners, providers and policy-makers make informed choices about care. If the evidence from the new trial justifies it, then both interventions should be offered routinely as referral options to patients within the NHS, which would mean that patients would no longer have to pay for these interventions themselves.”

6.8  cover BMJ

Hi Maaike,

I first came across a similar diagram in a Rolfing website (I think). Does Alexander's work refer to imagining the spine as being held up externally (by a crane hook), as visualised here. Do Alexander teachers widely use such a visualization?

As long as we remember that this method of holding up is physically impossible, perhaps it can do no harm!?


6.9  when back and down is forward and down

Tim wrote:
1. The head is extremely top heavy and forward heavy. Its centre of gravity is in front of and above the joint where the skull meets the spine. Left to its own devices, it will just topple forwards off the spine. (This happens sometimes when people ‘nod off’ in a lecture)


Top heavy, yes, since the center  of gravity of the head is above the spine-skull joint. Forward heavy? That will depend on how the head is held. My fear is that the skull is 'Forward heavy' because most people are holding the head wrongly. I have improved my head balance considerably; I see more of my skull projecting backwards than it used to.


6.10  The super sandwich model

Dear Friends,

In my website , Section 5, I have suggested a model to explain the phenomenon of postural collapse. This model has a weakness, in that it mainly focuses on the skeletal system. 
In addition to this model we need to visualize in more detail, problems specific to the muscular system.  
Let us take a case where an individual is trying to figure out why his eyeballs are not moving freely; he would like to solve the problem as expeditiously as possible. Most people will imagine that the problem can be sorted out by exercising the muscles close to the eyeballs. While such exercise could improve eyeball mobility to some extent, it is unlikely that for most people the problem will be sorted out satisfactorily this way, because the problem would have got sandwiched in multiple layers. A very simplified model of what will happen is shown in the figure below:
Fig 1 
Problems in the free movement of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movements of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movement of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movements of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movement of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movements of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movement of the eyeballs
Problems in the free movements of the eyeballs
Because of this sandwiching process it is not possible to easily sort out any postural problem locally. The process of postural collapse entangles the whole body ... minor problems in the upper half of the body will create minor problems in the lower half of the body ... which will cause another problem in the upper half of the body .... which will cause a problem in the lower part of the body ....
Hence it is unavoidable that in the process of posture correction we will have to shuttle back and forth over the whole length of the body.
Is it possible to correct such a complex mess?
Yes, it is possible to correct such a system:
1. If we think in terms of BALANCE ... which must be supported by:
2. Clothing and footwear must not block the natural movement of the body.
3. Recognize the concept of 'Present Space' (only the subconscious brain can coordinate proper movement)
4. Recognize the concept of USE; which means we must persist in adopting what we consider to be proper posture.
5. Knowing in which direction we must move in order to achieve balance. (My fear is that we are making a big mistake here).
1 to 4 are covered in the second page of my website
For more information on 5, visit:
Very fluid balance of the head: 
P.S. It goes without saying that 90% of our effort should be focused on preventing children from developing postural problems. Unfortunately, because of vague ideas on what causes bad posture, there is limited effort in this direction.

 6.11  Schools should do more to prevent bad posture in children

Schools, sports clubs and parents should all be doing more to halt the growing problems of bad posture in children, according to Abbots Langley osteopath Daren Fletcher.

.. This includes the length of time sat at computers, how to sit and stand correctly, the use of correct footwear when doing sport and its impact on posture, as well as the right way to address injuries – by seeing a professional and not always assuming that rest alone will deal with a growing child’s physical needs.
6.12  Luxation of the Atlas

However, the first cervical 
vertebra, the Atlas, is dislocated
(luxated), in most people.
This condition is known to have
existed for a very long time.
6.13  The Spine's Design
.. No thoughtful person doubts that the body is meant, either by nature or purpose or however you think of it, to work optimally under certain defined conditions. Identifying those conditions obviously can help prevent or ameliorate injuries. Lieberman makes the case for learning from evolution how best to care for our bodies. Of course, what he calls evolution could just as well be termed design.
Thus, on evolutionary grounds, Dr. Lieberman recommends barefoot running. He tells a story about how ancient humans found it adaptive to be able to run long distances on the savanna, of course without benefit of running shoes, and thereby tire out prey.
Again, if we're fitted to run barefoot, it's just as plausible to suppose that we're designed to do so. This I have not yet gotten up the nerve to test out myself, but would like to.
6.14  Cheap substitute for the AT (Alexander Technique)

Great, especially the idea that the beads will make you feel uncomfortable when you lean back on a back rest.
6.15  iPad neck

.. She said the key to avoiding injury was to "move more, vary your positions as much as possible and, if you want to use the iPad as a typing device, use a separate keyboard".
While using the iPad as a reading device was no more risky than reading a book, she said, the danger arose when users turned to the tablet for an increasing number of tasks.
"Don't use it to replace the computer unless you give serious consideration to how the work station is set up," she said.
Massage therapist Liz Astling said she noticed an onslaught of neck pain in her clients when the iPad hit the market last year — "especially men getting really obsessed with it and not wanting to put it down."

6.16  Children learning to write


The recommendation here is that children learn to write using an easel. This will make the writing surface almost vertical - the way to go! You can google 'images' to find out what an 'easel' is. 
6.17  Our Ancestor Climbed Like an Ape but Walked Like a Man

Our ancestors may have spent most of their time in the trees, but their feet were made for walking 2 million years earlier than thought. Footprints made in Tanzania, East Africa, by our hominin ancestors some 3.5 million years ago suggest they walked with an upright gait that is distinctly human.
6.18  "text neck"

Santa Monica - Could staying connected on your smartphone be causing permanent damage to your posture? Maybe even make you shorter? Some doctors are sounding alarms about a phenomenon they call "text neck."

Read more:
6.19  Human Grace

Franis Engel wrote: Alexander Technique benefits already sound a bit like it's snake oil! ....

There is little doubt that anyone starting on the Alexander Technique is going to benefit at least in the first one or two years. Just following the instructions in Dr. Barlow's book helped me to put on 5 kg weight in the first year - I was somewhat underweight earlier. 

The problem comes when we try to realise the larger claims made by Alexander and Dr. Barlow. As pioneers there efforts must be appreciated - we would not be on this discussion group but for them; but we need to recognise any shortcomings in their approach, correct these shortcomings, and move on. 

That will be the best tribute to Alexander's memory.


6.20  Posture 360

Dear All,
This is a post I had sent to another discussion group. You may find it of interest.
It has come as a shock and surprise to me that the head position shown in Fig 1 of my may not be entirely correct. I will not blame Dr. Barlow for this - considering the tricky nature of the subject and considering that Dr. Barlow had the courage to stick his neck out - where many have found it expedient to play safe. 
I am 90% certain that now I am moving in the right direction; but since 10% doubt remains (which I am confident I will clear over the next two years) you are advised to take any advise on posture with a pinch of salt : - )

Dear All,
Since some people have voiced continued support for the term 'Posture', perhaps we should give it another chance to survive.
The problem may not be with the word, rather, the problem may be with the meaning of the word. The word seems to convey different meaning to different people! For some the word means sitting stiffly erect, for some it means chest out and stomach in, for some it means breathing using the upper chest, for some it means breathing using the lower chest, for some it means breathing using the abdomen, for some it means breathing using the back, for some it implies sitting on a low chair, for some it implies sitting on a high chair, for some it means good posture is possible with high heels, for some it means one must be barefooted, for some .....
It is somewhat like trying to define heaven, I  am sure everyone will have his own idea of what it will be like. But need we be so helpless in coming up with a proper definition of posture that everyone can agree with?
I have always had this feeling that looking at the mechanics of the human body it is possible to come up with a simple definition, indeed this conviction is what got me interested in the subject 35 years back when I came across Dr. Barlow's book. But alas since I failed to get the required feedback which could back my conviction I had to  remain silent. 
With my recent conviction that the  position of the head is wrong for practically all adults, an idea brought forth in my three blogs:
1) Postural Bias - The Eyes (Dated: Nov 29, 2008)
2) Postural Bias - The Eyes 2 (Dated: Oct 6, 2009)
3) Balance of the Head - (Dated March 29, 2011)
... I am now more confident of my conviction, which I have held for the last 35 years.  
The key to a definition of good posture lies in Fig 10 of my website  . Here we see a simple two pan balance, which is morbid when it is unbalanced but comes to life when it is in balance. My proposed definition of Good Posture is: 
The body is in good postural balance when the WHOLE skeletal system (backed by strong and appropriate muscular system) can be brought to a state of flux.
This definition becomes a figure of merit to analyse whether head forward position is correct or head backward, whether it is better to sit on a low chair or a high chair, whether it is a bright idea to ties our trousers around our waist .. etc. 
By giving a number designation we provide a qualitative measure for our present posture:
POSTURE 30 .... What most of us will have, since we don't fall flat on our faces
POSTURE 60 .... What a person with good mental presence may have, even though his 'physical posture' is shot to pieces
POSTURE 60 .... The best a crippled person can have, since the natural flow of muscles may become all but impossible.
POSTURE 360 ... Where all the elements come together.

6.21  WAS Barefoot running and proprioception

Hi Philip,
We can use an engineering terminology 'Dynamic Balance' to define the state of balance of a system that is in motion.

6.22  Endgaining
, mirror neurons

John wrote:
To be without a goal is not a goal for me. I like goals. If you are
suggesting "living in the now," that is one of those vague goals that
is unappealing to me... I wouldn't know how to draw a picture of it.
Very true, being goalless is a problem. Once we have defined a meaningful goal for ourselves however, it enters our subconscious and need not be chanted over and over again. For instance, for the majority of women in India, I don't think there is any difficulty in setting goals; the goals are already predefined in terms of the daily chores which keep them fully occupied in support of their families.
For modern humans the problem of setting goals at the micro level can be sorted out by learning to make proper plans and schedules on paper. Once proper plans have been made the subconscious mind need not labour over what has to be done next and we can remain in the present moment. 
At the macro level, modern humans seem to be goalless - despite an impressive amount of activity - this is a problem that needs to be sorted out for the overall advancement of human society.
Being without goals would constitute a serious postural problem on its own; you wouldn't know which way to move your limbs : - )
6.23  Getting older much earlier

Modern technology has taken a heavy toll on Australian’s spine health, new research has found. Data, to be released by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia during National Chiropractic Care Week (May 23 to 29), show Australians’ postures are aging at an increased rate due to mobile devices.
“When it comes to spinal health, our younger people are getting older much earlier,” said CAA National President, Dr Simon Floreani (Chiropractor).
Someone has to teach our engineers to design in a better way. The design done by our engineers threatens our personal health and the health of our environment.
6.24  Beware, beware the ‘ergonomic’ computer chair
I’ve written countless articles on ergonomics. I was therefore less than impressed when I gave myself an ergonomic injury, using computer chairs. Not one, but two, new chairs had resulted in sharp lower back pains and related issues.
Read more:
6.25  A new class of clients
Houghton, an occupational therapist for 23 years and a certified hand therapist for the past 18, said she and others in her field are seeing a new class of clients presenting with complaints such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and hand and finger pain — young people in their middle teens up to age 25 who haven’t been performing the type of repetitive work usually associated with these overuse injuries.

Observe the jeans worn by the youngster; it is simply too tight! In India too, nowadays, we observe young people wearing excessively tight clothes. 

6.26  Problems with bicycles!

Two problems that prevent citizens "of a certain age" from becoming cycle commuters or even recreational cyclists are: postural problems and damage due to the shape and riding position of most bicycles; and complexity and maintenance problems.
Those problems definitely apply to touring and racing bicycles, with their hunched-over posture, which are also hard on the neck, hard on the wrists and palms, and hard on the nether-bits (skinny saddle crammed where sun doesn't shine). They equally apply to mountain and hybrid bikes that have slightly less severe versions of those same enjoyment deficits.
Read more:
What’s The Deal With Crank Forwards?

6.27  Free Your Feet, Change Your Life

In 1980, I was traveling in Kenya's Aberdare mountain range with my father, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld -- renowned cardiologist and host of Fox News Sunday's "Housecall" -- when a runner burst into camp, having run 26 miles to deliver an urgent medical message. Upon receiving my father's reply, he took a sip of water and ran back to deliver it.
Being surrounded by the creatures of the African highlands, and having recently left the plains, I managed an evolutionary perspective on the fact that a man could run a double marathon through the forest -- outrunning lions and all that -- but barefoot? How could his ankles, knees and hips take the pounding, never mind his feet? The deed was unimaginable to someone who wore leather loafers to work and soft sneakers to the gym.
...  Walk barefoot more often, too. Your feet will love you for it.
6.28  Correcting a 50,000 year old mistake (A fresh model for the human body)

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
 — John Muir  

Two of my earlier posts in this group had sought to bring to your attention that the direction of our habitual line of sight profoundly influences our physical posture (and thus our health and sense of wellbeing) . I had also pointed out that the problem of posture in human beings is ancient.   (Dated: Nov 29, 2008)

In this post we will attempt to achieve a better understanding of the problem. We will look at the issue from a fresh perspective, the perspective of proper balance of the head over the spine. There is reason to suspect that the balance of the head of adult humans is deeply wrong, and it could have become wrong not just 10,000 years back but perhaps much earlier. 

Once we make the assumption that the balance of the head is wrong we are in a position to answer many questions regarding posture which otherwise appear inexplicable. The proposition we would like to make is that the balance of head of the child in  this Norman Rockwell Painting is correct, whereas the usual balance of the head of adults where the head is held forward is incorrect. Do your own research, observe people around you; imagine a tangent to the two protrusions at the back (the pelvic hump and the shoulder hump, the surfaces that would come into contact with a bed), and study the relationship of the back of the head to this tangential surface. Observe how the position of the head varies dramatically with age, with the type of job a person is engaged in, etc; in all cases you will be hard put to find an adult who is holding his head well back. Have fun!

Proper balance of the human body is possible only when the head is held well back and the  spine is free to flex backwards even as the pelvis tilts forward.  

Support for this proposition:

1. We conclude that the head should be held well back, making the assumption that the child is most probably getting it right. If you observe small children carefully you will find that their bodies are very fluid, in sharp contrast to the arthritic way in which adults hold their bodies.
2. We conclude that the natural movement of the spine is to move backwards from observing the curvatures of the spine; the places where the spine can easily flex is at the neck and the small of the back; at both these places the natural curvature of the spine is such as to encourage backward movement!

Caution: Correcting posture is risky and it should not be undertaken lightly.

(I would have preferred to introduce this subject to you after two years, when I would be 99% certain about my hypothesis; I am taking a chance by introducing the subject to you now, when I am only 90% certain. But then, can we afford to sit on such an important issue forever? It is unfortunate that we have sat on this problem for a hundred years even after x rays made it clear that there were serious distortions in the human skeletal system. If my hypothesis is  correct, it is very unlikely that more than a handful of adults whether rich or poor, citified or rural or tribal, athletic or non-athletic can be getting their posture any where near right.)


To be continued:
1. How did the adult head balance become so wrong?
2. Answering some important questions using the above model. 
3. Developing a concept of 'Human Posture'. (Harmonizing the Nature - Human relationship)  

If you are new to this subject please visit:

6.29  Good posture video

Good posture video
6.30  Orthotics

His overall conclusion: Shoe inserts or orthotics may be helpful as a short-term solution, preventing injuries in some athletes. But it is not clear how to make inserts that work. The idea that they are supposed to correct mechanical-alignment problems does not hold up.
Joseph Hamill, who studies lower-limb biomechanics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, agrees.
“We have found many of the same results,” said Dr. Hamill, professor of kinesiology and the director of the university’s biomechanics laboratory. “I guess the main thing to note is that, as biomechanists, we really do not know how orthotics work.”
So long as we apply the wisdom of the stock market to understand natural systems, we are not going to understand them.
6.31  Perspectives on Yoga

Neither eternal nor Vedic ......

The reality is that yoga as we know it is neither ‘eternal’ nor synonymous with the Vedas or the Yoga Sutras. On the contrary, modern yoga was born in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a child of the Hindu Renaissance and Indian nationalism in which Western ideas about science, evolution, eugenics, health and physical fitness played as crucial a role as the ‘mother tradition’. In the massive, multi-level hybridisation that took place during this period, the spiritual aspects of yoga and tantra were rationalised, largely along the Theosophical ideas of ‘spiritual science’ introduced into India by the US-origin, India-based Theosophical Society, and internalised by Swami Vivekananda, who led the yoga renaissance.
In turn, the physical aspects of yoga were hybridised with drills, gymnastics and body-building techniques introduced from Sweden, Denmark, England and other Western countries. These innovations were creatively grafted on the Yoga Sutras – which has been correctly described by Agehananda Bharati, the Austria-born Hindu monk-mystic, as ‘the yoga canon for people who have accepted Brahmin theology’ – to create an impression of 5000 years worth of continuity where none really exists. HAF’s current insistence is thus part of a false-advertising campaign that has been going on for much of the 20th century.
Yoga may result in knee injury ...... 

Dr. Ashok Rajagopal, chair man of the Bone and Joint Institute in Medanta, The Medcity warned that practice of certain yoga like vajrasana may cause damage to knee joint and require total knee replacement. He said that many yoga gurus have been performed with total replacement of knee for pain and inability for smooth movements.


The above information seems plausible.

1. It is after the industrial revolution that people started to have sedentary life styles and the need would have arisen for exercise systems to keep sedentary people fit.

2. Even the military became relatively sedentary with the introduction of gun powder, hence the need for exercise systems to keep them fit. Before the advent of gunpowder the military would have trained by wrestling, archery, sword fighting, stick fighting, etc (Actually all these would have been vastly superior to present day exercise systems, even superior to most modern sports, as these would have engaged the EYES in a much better way).

3. The idea of sitting cross-legged would have caught the western imagination. For Indians there would have been nothing special in this, as sitting cross-legged was a way of life (even better, squatting!).

4. The yoga exercises in their present form may have benefited from western exercises, and may have also picked up some of their faulty ideas.

5. Most probably the earlier forms of yoga would have been more meditative in nature.