Technique Over Vanity

When I was in high school, I had a weight training coach who would repeat the following phrase over and over again: “Remember – technique over weight.” And he was so right. So many people are more interested in putting up more weight than doing the exercise correctly. The ironic thing is that as soon as you stop doing the exercise for the way you look when you do it and do it for the physical outcome, you will actually start looking better when you do it! Same thing applies to yoga.

Look at the featured photo of this article (just below this paragraph). It’s from a major men’s health magazine, called Men’s Health. The guy is a good looking guy, obviously in shape, but he’s doing the pose wrong. If you don’t do yoga though, you probably wouldn’t know. The point? Just because you look good doing something DOESN’T mean you’re doing it right.incorrect yoga

I get a lot of photos of people doing handstands, dancer pose, and other really cool looking poses. However, if I had to guess, I would say that only 1/3 of the poses that I receive are done correctly, and the main reason that they are being done incorrectly is because people want to look the best they can in the pose, meaning they want more extension, they want to look more impressive. Now, to the untrained eye, to somebody who doesn’t do yoga, they see this picture and think, “Holy twister, Batman! That’s some awesome ish right there.” I look at it and think of all the potential injuries it can lead to, and that if you would do the pose properly, you would get to the point where you look awesome in the photos AND get the proper benefits without the health risks.

I get it. You want to look good. Believe me, I’m the FIRST person that was guilty of this. It took a long time for people to actually correct me. There’s a couple reasons for that. One, maybe it was my own fault, for being so damn arrogant in confident in myself that I was doing the posture correctly that maybe the instructors actually thought I was doing it correctly. Many yoga instructors may have looked at me and just automatically assumed that I knew what I was doing, and that I was just doing a variation, so they should leave me alone. The second reason is because a lot of yoga instructors have the mentality that you should do poses the way you feel like you should. Now this second reason is something that I really like. I don’t like people telling you how to do things. But in this case, if it’s how to do a pose correctly, teachers should speak up and do something! Yes, don’t be afraid to shut down somebody’s ego if it’s to tell them how to do something correctly. Your overall health is more important to your ego, and the brief blow to your self-confidence will quickly be replaced in a couple weeks (or immediately after the incorrectness of the pose is pointed out) when you start doing the pose correctly.

Getting to the second part of my argument: the sooner you start doing the pose correctly, the deeper you’ll be able to go into the pose! You’ll make more progress doing the pose correctly than incorrectly, and you’ll get to the extension that you want to get to with a few days, weeks, or months worth of dedication. You may be impressing somebody who doesn’t do yoga when you do a pose incorrectly in order to look good, but in the end, you’re only cheating yourself. Be sure about the pose; check out this website for the pose guide, or yoga journal or a similar website for some proper guidelines.

The point of this? Proper technique is more important than how good you look while doing the pose.

3 thoughts on “Technique Over Vanity”

  1. So is this guy doing it right? What would you look for to establish this?

    I enjoy your posts. Thanks for taking the the time to write and post them.


    1. He’s not. In this particular pose I would look at the legs. If they were engaged, at least the knees (and maybe the thighs) would be off the ground.

  2. I’ve been following you for a few weeks now. Very impressed with your videos and blogs. I’ve been teaching for seven years now…practicing for about 14. There is a fine line between “doing it wrong,” and “doing more harm than good.” I always tell my students there is no such thing as a perfect pose, rather only a perfect pose for them. Also, I tell them to only spend positive time in pose. In other words, when you begin to feel your body to wobble, give way…etc…you’ve stayed too long in pose. Your body has muscle memory and it will begin to think (much like you point in this blog) that this feeling…this expression is the “right” way to do the pose.

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