The answer to the questions is tricky and not a simple yes or no, but when in life are the answers ever easy? This week, one of my teachers, Jill Miller, posted up a collection of her tweets into the post heard round the world.

Poses are not pills. Stop telling everyone to do PIGEON POSE when their hips hurt. You’re hurting them more. Poses are only therapeutic if you know specifically how it is affecting your tissues. Movement educators need to educate themselves about anatomy to make informed suggestions to their own bodies first. Know your own body’s tissues, AND their issues, then start helping others with theirs. Stop hiding behind sanskrit and learn a few latin words. Teach your students how their body needs to move in order to do a pose. EDUCATE, don’t disassociate.

-Jill Miller, creator of Yoga Tune Up®

So what would poses as pills be like? Have you ever been told that a specific pose will cure your back pain? Or sciatica? Or headache? Have you ever been told that the cure for your ________ was to get out and move? 

We live in a culture where we are always looking for the quick fixes. Do this to get rid of that. Take this so you don’t feel that. Those who are willing to put in the work to make changes in their bodies and lives become people we look up to. 

What does movement as medicine mean? Have we become so focused on the action and result of doing something that even movement is seen as something above and beyond the norm? Movement can be medicine, when done properly and mindfully. But movement should not be considered something extra. We should all be active each and every day, just because. We should be active because we don’t want to succumb to the obesity epidemic that has completely engulfed our country and is spreading throughout the rest of the developed world. 

We should be active because we don’t want our bodies to break down and become complacent with idleness. Our bodies were not meant to sit in one position all day. Nor were they made to sit. Or walk in high heels. Or spend all week in the same position, only to go our on the weekends, push them to their limits, and then wonder why our physical breakdown has been accelerated. 

It all comes down to intention, in my opinion. Are you moving or posing just to get through it? Or are you approaching the action with a purposeful intention of what you hope to get out of it. Are you fully present? Are you doing it because it feels right to you? Or because someone told you to?
In every class I teach, my goal is not to get through the poses I have in mind. My goal is to offer my clients tools to explore every nook and cranny of their body and movement for their selves. I don’t care what it looks like. There is no model of what it should. I care that my clients go to the edge of their comfort level, and back off when they need to. And most importantly, ask questions! Your question may create a wonderful dialog within the classroom as well as ask a question someone else was thinking. Going to your limit, but not beyond is a skill in patience and observation. But when you start to explore your end range of movement or flexibility without going beyond it into injury, you may find that the limit does not exist. The limit moves beyond who you are today and you become who will be tomorrow. We must continue to move forward and not to settle for the right now. 

Participation. That seems to me what we are lacking in our world right now: Participation in our health and full participation in our lives. Because full participation also requires responsibility. We must claim responsibility for our health and well-being because no one else can do it better. 

We need to stop tearing down our bodies and start building ones that are strong, healthy, and vibrant. At the same time, we need to stop applauding those who do not reflect this idea of health as our role models. The time for all of this is now. Stop allowing others to tell you what to do with your body and start doing what YOU want to do. 

Cultural revolution? Or is this just what we’ve been needing all along…