CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Yoga excesses may be self-indulgent, writer claims

Yoga commodification is sharply critiqued in a piece by Slate magazine.

In The Hostile New Age Takeover of Yoga, There's nothing worse than narcissism posing as humility, writer Ron Nussbaum decries exploitative posing by would-be yogis. He writes:

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against yoga--or Eastern disciplines in general. In fact, I've done tai chi exercises for many years.

No, it's the commodification and rhetorical dumbing-down of yoga culture that gets to me. The way something that once was--and still can be--pure and purifying has been larded with mystical schlock. Once a counterweight to our sweaty striving for ego gratification, yoga has become an unctuous adjunct to it.

There is the exploitative and ever-proliferating "yoga media." The advent of yoga fashion (the yoga mat, the yoga-mat carrier, and yoga-class ensembles). And worst of all, the yoga rhetoric, that soothing syrupy "yoga-speak" that we all know and loathe.

He particularly tackles an article in Yoga Journal in which the writer reports having gone to great lengths to seek forgiveness from a boyfriend with whom she had not had contact in more than a decade. Nussbaum lays this out as a case of "stalking," added and abetted by New Age pap.

With all due respect to Yoga Journal, there is some merit to the critique of yoga commodification. The market exploitation of wisdom, which turns it into watered-down evanescence, or worse, delusional and potentially harmful advice, is not unique to the yoga population. Unlike for example an allied health profession such as clinical psychology, many CAM disciplines do not teach about boundaries, or in my view, teach inadequately about boundaries; in fact, they excel at breaking down boundaries and thus help clients get in touch with the cosmos, but sometimes at the cost of learning where and when it is helpful and necessary to have boundaries in place.

As for yoga, this blog has touched on some of the issues in articles such as The Ethics and Liabilities of Touch in Yoga Teaching and Legal Implications of Health Advice for Yoga Teachers, Part 2.

Advice has to be rendered carefully, as does self-diagnosis and self-prescription. There is a balance in the wisdom, and the term "discernment" is meant to imply that unbounded faith in anything can lead to excess.
___________
Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies. The firm represents medical doctors, allied health professionals (from psychologists to nurses and dentists) and other clinicians (from chiropractors to acupuncturists), solo entrepreneurs, hospitals, and educational and health care institutions.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, which follows Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen is licensed has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C., and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing).
___________

Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
http://www.camlawblog.com/admin/trackback/158385
Comments (0) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
COMPLEMENTARY & ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE LAW BLOG

Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173