The latest ripple in the yoga news involves actor Alec Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria Thomas, a yoga teacher of eight years who is being sued for negligence during her yoga class at Yoga Vida in lower Manhattan.
According to witnesses, Huffington Post blogger Spencer Wolff, who is filing the lawsuit against Thomas, did not listen to Thomas’ cautionary instructions. Suffering from an injury due to crashing through a window while attempting to do an inversion at the wall, Wolff claims Thomas’ negligence is the cause of his physical and emotional injuries.
It is no surprise classes in New York City are packed to the hilt with people striking their most impressive yoga poses. Competition doesn’t take a back seat in a city that never sleeps, and no one wants to be disqualified from the rat race. That is the energy in New York, take it or leave it. However, no matter how hard people work to do their absolute best in the presence of others, there will never be an excuse good enough to deny responsibility for his or her own actions.
No matter what becomes of this lawsuit, the greater yoga community needs to be put on alert that while yoga is an activity that fosters peace and love, it is neither exempt from requiring proper standards and protocols that help keep people injury-free, nor is the practice itself immune to yoga injuries. We know from William J. Broad’s book The Science of Yoga, that yoga is not for everyone, and yoga teachers need to heed the warning that not everyone is going to honor his or her limits.
As a yoga teacher, I have seen people ignore my instructions in favor of pushing themselves beyond what I professionally deem as appropriate. It is not that uncommon, in fact, it’s human nature to want to take risks to get better at something. There is no fault in that, if we didn’t step outside our comfort zones from time to time, we would never know our potential.
While we’d like to think we know our bodies well enough to take that extra risk without incurring an injury, sometimes it is advantageous to listen to an expert. Ultimately, it is up to us, but sometimes a little caution in lieu of a little competition is the best course to take.
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