Jules Mitchell: Yoga & Science Notes from the Field

In the latest episode in the Yoga Renaissance, I checked in with Jules Mitchell in the midst of a demanding teaching tour. She had just submitted the manuscript for her book (out in October) Yoga Biomechanics: Stretching Redefined, and was putting the finishing touches to a long form article due later that day.

As she reflected on her current experience in teacher training workshops, Jules emphasized the value of embracing uncertainty as part of being really open to a scientific approach to how we practice and teach yoga. I asked her about how she frames this uncertainty for teachers who find it really disorienting, and even threatening in terms of what they have learned in the past from authority figures.

We talk about evolving model of how we think about yoga postures, movement, injury,  through the lens of biomechanics and anatomy —but also how this is influenced by genetics, environment, psychology; the biopsychosocial context, and the truly puzzling questions in pain science.

I also asked Jules to weigh in on the topic I have been everyone about —the concept of “alignment” in yoga… is it a complete fabrication, or is it based on something substantial?! This led to discussion of Serena Williams, Olympic power lifters, Iyengar, Krishnamacharya, and whether or not our bodies know Euclidian geometry…

In a surprising twist, she calls into question the catchphrase that “all movement is good,” and also offers an illuminating critique on the current available research data about specific yoga postures, and the underlying (and unproven) assumptions still based in an outdated model that are often evident on closer inspection.

Great to get some thought-provoking notes from the field!

If you prefer you can also listen to the podcast audio via this link:

 

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