Treating the Pose Not the Person?

No Comments
Hi Friends!

Traditional Western medicine treats the disease not the person.

Traditional shiatsu prescribes a fixed set of rules and procedures for each problem.

Traditional yoga mandates specific defined poses to put people in.

Who made these rules? As my wife Tara Stiles has mentioned, they’re extremely limiting.

Our traditional medicine is great for infections and broken bones. It’s not working for most things that are bringing people pain and suffering today, like stress, obesity, and the worst of our associated diseases.

Traditional shiatsu may work sometimes, but often that’s by accident.

Traditional yoga – fixing people into “correct” poses – is missing the boat. It’s leading people to follow gurus – outside sources of information – rather than themselves.

Why isn’t this working?

My friend Sam Berlind is by all accounts a master of shiatsu, and blew our socks off at Strala this past weekend. He’s also worked with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and yoga, all as paths to healing. His work in shiatsu began with 25 years under Wataru Ohashi’s direction, from whom I learned as well.

Ohashi’s approach to shiatsu broke the rules. He saw that treating people as patients using fixed prescriptions worked sometimes, but he suspected that was very often an accident. The rules-based, master-patient approach lacked fluidity and responsiveness to what existed right there with each unique person, in each unique life.

So he developed his own approach. As Sam describes it, this new approach to shiatsu throws aside the idea of a master attempting to fix a patient. There is no fixing. Instead, there are two people supporting each other, right in that moment. The giver forms a connection with the receiver. We aim to gently push, pull, challenge, and get out of the way so our bodies can heal themselves more effectively.

Sam also said something else that hit us all pretty solidly. The shiatsu giver knows less than the receiver. The yoga teacher knows less than the student.

Could that be right? Of course. The student knows how they feel. The teacher can only guess.

For all of us, whether we’re doctors, shiatsu masters, or yoga teachers, that guess is diagnosis. Whether we admit it or not, it’s all guessing. Our treatment is a guess, too. Sometimes we get to be right.

This suggests a shift in how we approach each other.

I’ve always loved the song ‘Dueling Banjos.’ I’ve never loved so much dueling yoga teachers. Who can prove who’s lineage and guru is right about how to fix people, how to get them into the right place?

There’s a problem with that. There is no right place! We’re all different from each other. We’re even different from ourselves day to day. What did we eat yesterday, did we go for a long run, sit a desk all week, what feels right in my body right now?

We’re not here to fix each other. There is a trend in yoga around adjustments – where a teacher approaches the student to change their form, and move them into some idea of a “correct” pose. This is crazy, and goes hand in hand with the trend of aggressive yoga teachers injuring their students.

There is no correct pose. There is just my body and my life right now, and I’m the only one who can directly feel me. The right form for me each day, each moment, has to do with responding to my entire life. The right place and movement for my body is all mine! If a teacher can help me, it’s in supporting me to feel me. I can stop pushing and struggling to get into someone else’s shape (which means no more injuries!), and find my way into my own.

We’re here to support each other. It’s the best thing we can do. Just like Ohashi and Sam, Tara broke the rules in creating Strala. She moved away from the common yoga teacher focus of “how can I prove what I know” to a more gentle and useful “how can I help?” Whether you’re talking about shiatsu or yoga, helping people is about making a connection. When we help and support each other to connect to ourselves, yoga works. It cures. We get healthy and happy, and lead our best most capable lives.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fun one 👋Why do you practice ease? To feel better, to be able to enjoy more, serve more, to have enough energy to run around with the little ones in your life or something else? Pic by @inaraa_yoga before class in Berlin.Let us know in the comments.
Every  breath is an opportunity to feel better.
I create calm. When I choose to center myself, I create calm for me and the world around me.Welcome May, welcome our monthly theme, welcome our practice calendar, welcome calm. #stralayoga #createcalm
The mute button. 🤫An easy DIY #shiatsu to practice with yourself or with a partner. This #tsubo (entry point to a #meridian highway) has a way of calming an overactive mind. We named it the mute button in #stralayoga for a reason 😉Where
Below the big toe bone and a little in toward the center of the 🦶How
Press your thumb into this place as you lean in and away from the center of yourself or your partner.Now what
Soften yourself, breathe deep and make sure you are moveable. Hang here a bit without trying to make anything happen. Just chillNow what
Lean away from your partner to disconnect. Give them a bit of time to relax and maybe ask for some feedback.Don’t forget
Ask your partner for your turn 🙌
Where is your happy place? When it’s not possible to go “there” remember you can always slow down and travel within for lasting magic. 🔮 Our inner connections will make the outer ones so much more special when we all meet again. #stralayoga
Healthy, vibrant community spreads more healthy, vibrant community. 🌊 The positive variations are limitless. We are so proud of our #stralayoga family of Guides & the expansive communities they build, spread and reveal. Congrats @glogloya on your anniversary of creating @nooknyc You are an inspiration. #stralafamilyTag someone in your community you are grateful for.
We lead the experience of how we feel about ourselves.In #stralayoga training you learn how to be fully connected to your breath, body and voice as one.You learn how to move well in every moment on & off the mat through the practice of #taichiYou learn how to make a good connection in relationship with yourself & others through the practice of #shiatsuYou learn the form vocabulary of #yoga as healing movements and how to artfully #sequence for yourself and any group.You remember who you are and what gifts you have to share.You find your role in #communityYou gain endless friends around the globe who are so different from you in every way, but share a common goal of feeling better and a desire to help others. All the trees are beautiful. #stralafamilyOur wellbeing is connected. Everyone is invited.What does a Guide mean to you?
Yoga works best when it feels like you. #stralayoga
A yoga practice doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. A little throw back of little Daisy leading as the little ones do. Take this as your daily reminder to crawl down to the ground and move how it feels good for you today. Let us know how it goes. #stralayoga