Pseudoscience is everywhere in the yoga world.
It happens when a natural curiosity about a phenomenon — for example, whether emotions may get “stored” in our hips, or “20 minutes of headstand reverses aging” — becomes passed on as fact.
Thus begins viral circulation of a falsehood throughout yogaland.
Does that sound harsh? “Falsehood” is, indeed, a bit strong, as many have not been proven true nor false.
But the line blurs quickly between “hey I wonder…” (a hypothesis) and “This is a real thing” (because a yoga teacher said so).
We yogis are accustomed to studying texts that describe phenomena that can’t exactly be quantified: chakras, nadis, subtle energies.
Those models of the body pre-date the scientific method and are frameworks that help many of us. Although largely not testable, ancient concepts are not the problem.
The problem of pseudoscience is more modern and insidious.
It shows up, for example, in articles that attempt to prove a hypothesis like “our emotions are stored in our hips” through stories of individual experience, calling things “research” that are not published scientific research, and sometimes one scientist in an adjacent field making vague statements that seem to support the hypothesis. (This is exactly what happened in a recent edition of Yoga Journal).
Validation of a hypothesis requires good evidence. Good evidence takes years to assemble and publish.
There are a lot of ideas that we have that may never be “known”.
Filtering out actual, evidence-based truths from the never-been-provens in yogaland is not easy, but it is incredibly important.
It’s a practice of satya, of truth.
It’s how we remain agnostic to the different styles of yoga. We slay the nonsense, and bring the fundamentals of science to the sometimes esoteric realms of yoga.
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