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The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga

The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/25/16 2:06 PM
When I started doing hot yoga, about 9 months ago, I happened to be at a studio where the instructors where particularly down-to-earth and honest.  I still remember when I explained that I was having trouble taking full breaths in a certain pose, and the teacher said "don't worry about breathing yet, focus on building muscular endurance."  Over the next few months, I went 4 to 6 times a week.  The focus shifted from muscular endurance, to cardiovascular endurance.  Eventually, with those two bodily processes in place, it became about primary muscle flexibility, and supporting muscle strength/relaxation.  After that, it was about making small tweaks to technique, slowing down my breath, and becoming mindful within the postures.  

I am now at another yoga studio, where they advise out-of-shape newcomers to breathe slowly, cultivate mindfulness and make small tweaks to technique.  I suspect the reason for this is that the truth about how progress is made would not sell gym memberships.  This reminds me of the Mushroom Factor within American Buddhism, in terms of hiding the truth about how real progress is made.  

Hatha Yoga can become a practice which helps integrate mental qualities such as mindfulness, clarity, and equanimity into the posturing and movement of the body.  However, it is unlikely to effectively do so, without the establishment of a solid platform of physical endurance, which requires months of consistent, quantity-over-quality practice to build.  

Any thoughts on this comparison of different "Mushroom Cultures?"  Anyone else have similar comparisons?

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/25/16 3:50 PM as a reply to Noah D.
This reminds me of the Mushroom Factor within American Buddhism, in terms of hiding the truth about how real progress is made.

It's a hard sell, if the truth were told, fully, even more so : There is absolutely nothing whatsoever to be happy about in Theravadan Buddhism. All this talk of "happiness' through meditation is bollocks really. The reason Mahayana and its offshoots took root was because of the utter bleak, life-negative, sex-negative, love-negative basis of Theravada. It's all random pixels in motion, metta is at best wishing your neighbor well (for your own merit!) but no need to actually help anyone in life terms. No-self is freedom, yet there is endless stressful striving by 'self ' for mythical states such as stream entry etc - if there is No-self really, who gives a care about such states of attainment. No hope then for the great unwashed, unsaved, non-attainers. I say long live the already free,  that's all beings who never need to attain anything.  Where is the end of suffering in this system? Apparently you can attain to Arahat yet be unenlightened ( still seeking, striving, suffering), crazy shit, yet that is the bottom line. (allow me a small rant, thank you)


RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 6:32 AM as a reply to Marty G.
@Marty G: well, that is a very dark view of the Theravada, I must say. It is not that I don't understand some of the roots of it, as there are vague shadows of truth behind what you say, but it is a very skewed view. Might try practicing well and in sufficient dose, see what you see, and then give a more realistic report. The stages of awakening are not mythical, and I don't know anyone who has them who would willingly go back to the previous way. The jhanas are awesome and not to be missed. While one might think of the Theravada as anti-love, anti-fun, etc., its practices can be lots of fun and help open the heart.

Be well and practice well,
Daniel

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 4:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel, that was a bit of a spleen discharging rant, but I do tend to see the tough old Thai Forest Arahats absolutely at war with themselves (no exaggeration) for years until they seem to reach a resolution of sorts. Even then it appears to be a deeply divided internal state. No Tantra in their outlook. These guys though inspiring of extreme practice, and worthy of great respect, seem to lack a certain sane balance. When I say there is absolutely nothing to be happy about, they knew this perfectly well.

Great site by the way and thanks for your generosity and open attitude, you have inspired many.

Marty

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/30/16 2:26 PM as a reply to Marty G.
Marty G:
This reminds me of the Mushroom Factor within American Buddhism, in terms of hiding the truth about how real progress is made.

It's a hard sell, if the truth were told, fully, even more so : There is absolutely nothing whatsoever to be happy about in Theravadan Buddhism. All this talk of "happiness' through meditation is bollocks really. The reason Mahayana and its offshoots took root was because of the utter bleak, life-negative, sex-negative, love-negative basis of Theravada. It's all random pixels in motion, metta is at best wishing your neighbor well (for your own merit!) but no need to actually help anyone in life terms. No-self is freedom, yet there is endless stressful striving by 'self ' for mythical states such as stream entry etc - if there is No-self really, who gives a care about such states of attainment. No hope then for the great unwashed, unsaved, non-attainers. I say long live the already free,  that's all beings who never need to attain anything.  Where is the end of suffering in this system? Apparently you can attain to Arahat yet be unenlightened ( still seeking, striving, suffering), crazy shit, yet that is the bottom line. (allow me a small rant, thank you)

I prefer my rants with more meat and less teeth gnashing

Pointing out resources that back up your claims can be educational for all.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/2ttyog/the_state_of_theravada_strong_criticism_from_a/

http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/brokenbuddhanew.pdf

The question then is how to avoid the mushroom factor, change it, understand it, or whatever it is you are railing about...

~D

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/30/16 11:37 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hi DW, 
The question then is how to avoid the mushroom factor, change it, understand it, or whatever it is you are railing about..

Just in case anyone is unclear on this term :

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+What+Went+Wrong

I was in fact just using that this post as an opportune moment to
vent a little without much mind on the actual context of the post or the
poster.

That text you linked to is scathing and I think has substance
to it. However the great strength of Theravada is its lack of  nonsense
and baggage ( only when at its best).

Mahayana and its many offshoots moves on to Tantra, and the great promise of Dzogchen ( already
Buddha-Nature)  where my own heart lies, but the down side is the
immense cultural baggage carried in these traditions.

I'm sure many have commented on this and it wont change anytime soon.  I could not truly
approach, sincerely any of the Tibetan streams, due to the localized
cultural 'carry-on'  associated with all of them ( without exception as
far as I can see).

In fact it's extremely difficult to read and  understand many of the works that come from those sources due to so much
flowery and cultural-syncratic language. It's dispiriting unless you
want to absorb the 'whole enchilada' going back to it deep roots in the
past.

Modern teachers who try to take Dzogchen ( for instance) outside
of Tibetan culture and gurus, generally fall flat and just sound like
all the other non-dualists  spouting their seemingly identical
'chit-chat'.

Sorry this adds not much to the conversation on Mushrooms.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
10/1/16 6:53 PM as a reply to Marty G.
Marty G:
Hi DW, 
The question then is how to avoid the mushroom factor, change it, understand it, or whatever it is you are railing about..

Just in case anyone is unclear on this term :

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+What+Went+Wrong

I was in fact just using that this post as an opportune moment to
vent a little without much mind on the actual context of the post or the
poster.

That text you linked to is scathing and I think has substance
to it. However the great strength of Theravada is its lack of  nonsense
and baggage ( only when at its best).

Mahayana and its many offshoots moves on to Tantra, and the great promise of Dzogchen ( already
Buddha-Nature)  where my own heart lies, but the down side is the
immense cultural baggage carried in these traditions.

I'm sure many have commented on this and it wont change anytime soon.  I could not truly
approach, sincerely any of the Tibetan streams, due to the localized
cultural 'carry-on'  associated with all of them ( without exception as
far as I can see).

In fact it's extremely difficult to read and  understand many of the works that come from those sources due to so much
flowery and cultural-syncratic language. It's dispiriting unless you
want to absorb the 'whole enchilada' going back to it deep roots in the
past.

Modern teachers who try to take Dzogchen ( for instance) outside
of Tibetan culture and gurus, generally fall flat and just sound like
all the other non-dualists  spouting their seemingly identical
'chit-chat'.

Sorry this adds not much to the conversation on Mushrooms.
Why not start a new thread of your own with your rants and thoughts? If you want some info or whatever....what modern teachers are you talking about? Want to know of some decent ones? You could ask.
~D

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 1:42 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:

I am now at another yoga studio, where they advise out-of-shape newcomers to breathe slowly, cultivate mindfulness and make small tweaks to technique.
I don't recognize what is particularly wrong about this approach? Why wouldn't it work?
What's wrong with doing these things first, then the rest?

Any thoughts on this comparison of different "Mushroom Cultures?"  Anyone else have similar comparisons?
I have a more fundamental critique of nearly all Yoga schools: (For the record, I have tried two different Yoga teachers for half a year each, so I'm basically a world-renowned expert on this.)

My dislike for all things Yoga is based on the following observation:
They try to accomplish too much all at once. Almost everything they try can be learned better by using other approaches. What do they try to do?
1) Strength and muscular endurance: It seems that for some of those poses you need strength. (Trying it myself though, I didn't really notice this.)
Try weight lifting. Get to that 200kg deadlift and tell me this doesn't develop more strength. Then change it to 100kg and see how long you can pull that off. (muscular endurance)
2) Flexibility: ok, the training is actually quite suited to achieve this. However, I reckon that pure, targeted flexibility training is even better suited.
3) Movement quality: By training flexibility, strength and getting in and out of those weird poses, movement quality is improved a little. But not so much, since the focus is not on general movements. Approaches like Feldenkrais et al are simply better suited to improve movement quality.
4) Mindfulness/meditation: This is part of the poses, similarly to walking meditation in buddhist retreats. But attention is easily diverted by the many other things vying for it: correct technique, a nearing cramp, the hot girl opposite you... On the whole, 3 days of intensive meditation retreat (12 hours of consistent noting for a day ftw) will probably teach you more about mindfulness than a month of a yoga retreat.
5) Poses: ok, this is indeed rather unique to Yoga. You learn to get into weird-but-sortof-cool looking poses. But then what? What value do those things actually have? And why not spend the time to instead do something even cooler looking like riding the aero wheel?

Conclusion: Yoga is a giant fad and highly overrated. It is itself a mushroom thing because it pretends to teach people everything and be like totally spiritual while it teaches them very little, but in many areas instead.
There are people for whom Yoga is suited very well. Who are those?
Obviously, it's those people who do not have higher aims in goals 1-4, who really like hanging out in those poses, and who for some reason really need those intermediate skills in areas 1-4.

But most people hanging out in Yoga centres don't fall into this category.
They really do it for relaxation or because they somehow believe it must be good because everyone says so or something.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 9:34 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
My hypothesis, from the point of view of western magick which in many ways resembles indian yoga, is that poses are there for several reasons. First of all, they affect the flow of prana in the nadis of the "etheric body/bodies" in a way that is conducive of deep concentration. Also, they function as a form of contemplation of symbols that transform the practitioner. Kind of like this:

https://youtu.be/Q_VizlDWcTA

https://youtu.be/6WtPrOE1JSk

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 9:38 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
Haha bernd!  Well put indeed.  Modern Yoga is one giant mushroom.  For some reason though, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life: better than wrestling, bjj, hiit weight lifting, etc.  I think part of that is because it allows me to focus so specifically and slowly on one area of fitness/technique at a time (which is not what's usually advertised about yoga.)

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 9:53 AM as a reply to Noah D.
It's a well-known problem in American Yoga, that the quality of teachers and teachings vary hugely. 

However, what you're describing is unusual to me. I've been practicing yoga asana for about 4 years now, and I've never had a teacher say,  "don't worry about breathing yet, focus on building muscular endurance." The advice I usually hear is, if you're finding it difficult to breathe deeply, to not worry about going into the fullest expression of the pose.

Pull back, use props and supports, or try an an alternative way of doing the pose, is what I hear more often. The important thing is keeping the breath deep and long. If you are finding it difficult to do that, I hear that described as a sign you're trying to go too deep, too soon, into the pose, and that you should back off. 

So, sure, doing the fullest expression of a pose mindfully does require physical endurance and strength, but you don't always need that full expression to get the benefits. Yes, if your idea of making progress is always being able to do the full pose perfectly, then being told to breathe slowly and cultivate mindfulness would not get you to that goal as quickly. 


THAT BEING SAID: Many teachers out there in the market (I use that word quite intentionally) are really better called facilitators than teachers. Doing a 200-hour course barely prepares you to safely guide a class through a series of postures. It certainly doesn't prepare you to help your students make real progress in either the physical or the spiritual development sides of the practice. The sad fact is that a lot of studios can not stay financially solvent without offering those teacher-mill courses. They need to be short enough that they can churn people out quickly and so they can stay affordable enough to be attractive to a larger number of people. Competition between studios is so high that only offering instruction isn't enough to make ends meet a lot of the time. 

I'm maybe not the best person to list out all the problems in American Yoga, but if you're interested, J Brown writes very intelligently on all of this. He's very good at shining light on the marketing myths that have been spun about yoga, and about the shadow sides of it all. He's also humble enough to admit that he doesn't always know how to fix these problems. 
http://www.jbrownyoga.com/ 

This post on the marginal utility of yoga might pair well with Bernd's comments: http://www.jbrownyoga.com/blog/2016/9/yoga-marginal-utility


RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/26/16 11:21 PM as a reply to Ostaron.
@Ostaran,

Thanks for all the good points.  J Brown seems like a great resource.  My experience is definitely specific to me, and to the fact that I was doing hot yoga, which tends to be more fitness oriented.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/27/16 1:34 PM as a reply to Noah D.
I think the mushroom culture has more to do with people not wanting to do any effort and still get results.

It's even more problematic because, as you get used to not doing any effort, both your body and mind get out of shape.
You get to the point where doing little things cost a lot of effort not because the effort is a lot, but because you are very out of shape.

Then, when many people are out of shape, they get together and conclude that things are not worth doing.
They start rationalizing and sharing their problems (which they can't solve because they are out of shape) in an attempt to validate their posture.

I understand and sympathize, because whatever activity you start, at first it's difficult. And it's difficult to keep doing things. And sometimes things go wrong. Specially activities like meditation where goals are difficult to describe. And yoga where you must have some basic physical base (and you can get injured). Fear plays an important role in rationalizations.

The thing is, eventually, at some point, people know if they are lying to themselves about what they want to do and don't do or can't do.
Rationalizations can't hide the inner wanting.

In my opinion, if you want to do something (and it doesn't hurt others), just do it (or at least try to).
For me, meditation and yoga are worth doing.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/28/16 7:23 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:


Hatha Yoga can become a practice which helps integrate mental qualities such as mindfulness, clarity, and equanimity into the posturing and movement of the body.  However, it is unlikely to effectively do so, without the establishment of a solid platform of physical endurance, which requires months of consistent, quantity-over-quality practice to build.  


I strongly disagree with the bolded part of your statement. In my opinion, quantity-over-quality practice is never a good idea because it reinforces dysfunctional motor patterns (habits that can be very hard to break) and makes the likelihood of injury much higher than it has to be. It basically encourages the opposite of mindfulness. Those types of yoga classes exist to give people a workout, which is what they want and are willing to pay for. 

I'm a huge fan of asana and have been practicing daily for nearly a decade now, but I have mostly learned from books and self-practice because what was available out there just didn't do it for me for all sorts of reasons. It's only been in the last year or so that I've started attending class regularly, and that's because I found an Ashtanga school with Mysore classes where everyone works at their own pace. Sure, lots of people there probably just want a workout, but the opportunity to practice in a way that fosters spiritual growth is there for whomever wants it. I am lucky to have found a good teacher with his own meditation practice and am learning a ton.

Ashtanga has its issues, don't get me wrong. But I haven't found anything even comparable for utilizing asana as a support for meditation practice. 

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/28/16 9:36 AM as a reply to Ann.
I'm really glad you pointed this out, Ann. Yoga has a reputation for being really "safe" exercise - and while it's low-impact, I wouldn't call it 100% safe, and it can be quite dangerous if practiced poorly. A close friend of mine severely injured his neck after years of over extending in back bends, and was in the hospital for a month. His balance and motor function has never completely recovered. 

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/28/16 9:52 AM as a reply to Ann.
@Ostaron:  I will have to be careful then.

@Ann: Yeah it's primarily a work out for me.  I practice off cushion Anapana all day long so I don't worry about meditating in yoga class.  However, yoga makes me feel more "at home" in my body.  This amplifies mindful bodywork techniques in daily life such "watch the stillness" and "watch the flow."

But yeah, definitely going to start taking it slower in class...

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/30/16 6:22 AM as a reply to Noah D.
@Ostaron-- You are so right, TONS of people get injured practicing yoga, which is really unfortunate as it's mostly avoidable. I've racked up enough injuries from sports, no need to add to my list of soon-to-be arthritic joints.

@Noah-- If you practice asana mindfully, it will help your Anapana the rest of the day. Take just about any basic pose and investigate the position of the spine: if done correctly, it should be the same as if you were meditating in a good standing or sitting posture, right? By working to find that straight but relaxed basic posture in a variety of poses, it opens up more sensations to use for vipassana. You get better resolution, and I think it is good practice for grounding oneself in physical sensations quickly which is very applicable for daily life.

Also, the more refined your posture becomes, the more interesting and pleasant sensations start to arise--at least, this has been my experience over the years. I have had some wildly pleasurable and intense sensations hit me hard every once in awhile--obviously not anything to get attached to, but nice when it happens. 

It just seems to me a waste to practice asana just for a workout. If you make a point of practicing mindfully, you can get so much more out of it.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/30/16 9:31 AM as a reply to Ann.
Hmm, so I'm considering trying to take slower, more mindful approach.  I don't want to get injured.  

What I don't understand about hot yoga is this:  You can't do all the poses mindfully, with good technique, and for their entire duration, without gassing before the end of class.  I say this because I can count on ten fingers the amount of people I have seen with this level of mastery, fitness, and focus.  They've been doing it for years.  So which one is supposed to go?  Am I supposed to let myself gas out because I over-focus on technique?

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
9/30/16 1:14 PM as a reply to Noah D.
OK. I'll share my experience and opinion (2.5 years of yoga) .

In yoga, it's very, very important how you eat. And it's very easy to get injured if you eat very badly (even doing gentle poses).
What you eat also impacts your level of stamina and focus.

Of course, what you eat can also impact your meditation a lot. There's a lot of difference between meditation after a meal and meditation 8 hours after your last meal.

Nutrition is vast, complex and not well understood yet, but it's impact in one's activities is really important.
If you follow a strict good diet, it's benefits can be huge.

Been changing and modeling my eating patterns for some time now emoticon.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
10/1/16 6:22 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
Hmm, so I'm considering trying to take slower, more mindful approach.  I don't want to get injured.  

What I don't understand about hot yoga is this:  You can't do all the poses mindfully, with good technique, and for their entire duration, without gassing before the end of class.  I say this because I can count on ten fingers the amount of people I have seen with this level of mastery, fitness, and focus.  They've been doing it for years.  So which one is supposed to go?  Am I supposed to let myself gas out because I over-focus on technique?

Honestly, I don't know much about the specifics of hot yoga beyond a fleeting awareness of the Bikram scandal and that it is a set sequence of poses in a heated room.

But if were me, I'd probably start with focusing on just a handful of poses to really challenge yourself on in any given session. For safety's sake, any pose where the foot is in lotus or half lotus should always be done with extreme care and mindfulness, because this is where people have blown ACLs. Make sure the knee joint is fully closed before pulling over the other thigh (impossible to do with the second leg in lotus, which makes the knee extra vulnerable here).

You can also do less strenuous modifications of poses in order to conserve physical energy. Perhaps focus more on awareness and alignment than building strength or flexibility. There's not really any such thing as true mastery of a pose when you think about it--there's always a more demanding version to work on or room for continued refinement, so it's more of a process. If you pick and choose what to focus on and where, you should be able to challenge yourself throughout the practice without gassing out. 

I've found studying anatomy diagrams of postures to be a helpful way of increasing my understanding and awareness of what's going on in any given posture, but I'm a big ol' nerd with training in anatomy so YMMV.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
10/1/16 11:51 AM as a reply to Noah D.
I tried hot Yoga for a few sessions and it wasn’t appealing to me. At the time I was doing Ashtanga (power yoga), and I liked that because I felt like I was really getting a good workout, and the feeling of having a good workout was a result of the effort I was putting into the asana’s. With hot yoga, the sense of effort was from enduring the heat, and I didn’t understand the value of that.

I started doing yoga in the 70’s when my mom got into it, and ordered a book from the CTV show “Kareen’s Yoga”. I started doing yoga by following the instructions in the book. Latter, I went to Yoga sessions offered at my school, and the instruction was pretty good. At each class, after a long session of Asana’s, we always had a fairly long shavasana (corpse pose) session, which in hindsight, was really a guided meditation session. I incorporated this shavasana into my daily yoga practice, which was 1.5 hrs a day.

I’ve had various motivations for doing yoga, it started out as just curiosity. Later it was primarily a tool for stress reduction, often as a supplement for my physical fitness regimen, and sometimes for the “spiritual” aspect.

So, does Yoga “work”? I mean in the sense of using it as a tool for spiritual development. I think it can.

The understanding I’ve picked up over the years is that stress/tension accumulates in the body. It’s the concept of “body armour” from Wilhelm Reich. Asana’s will invariably hit those areas due to the fact there are so many poses, and some of those poses are bound to find the areas where you hold tension. In addition to that, if there is a shavasana component involving progressive relaxation, the release is even more effective. So, after a yoga session, you can find relief from the tension that is normally carried around in the body.

In my case, at one point in my life, Yoga accidentally became too effective. I was doing my daily 1.5 of practice, which involved asanas, shavasana with progressive relaxation, and then just shavasana in an incredibly relaxed and quite state. After six months or so of this, I had a Kundalini type energy event that was totally unexpected, frightening and disorienting. I had no information or expertise to help me cope with it, and at the time, I didn’t even associate the energy event with my Yoga practice. This lead to a very difficult period which would correspond to a prolonged dark night.

At a different period in my life I went for a weekend yoga retreat in Montreal with Hart Lazer. He isn’t well known, but he was really knowledgeable, with none of that fake “yoga instructor affectation” that is sometimes found. During one of the sessions, while holding a long bridge pose, one of the students had some sort of emotional release/breakdown. It was tended to skillfully by the instructors. But my understanding of this, again, as some sort of release of emotional energy that is stored in the body and released. I’ve heard if the same thing happening rarely with chiropractic adjustments.

OMHO, yoga can potentially achieve the same results as meditation. Yoga works from the direction of body -> mind, whereas meditation would is from mind -> body. Of course, traditional yoga isn’t just about asana’s, but is only one of the eight limbs that includes meditation.

These days, I’m not doing yoga, but my meditation feels more “embodied”, where I am really relaxed and aware of the sensations of the body.

As far as injury potential of Yoga, that is a concern. Good instructors will mitigate the risk of injury. I am very aware of the risk of repetitive flexing of the lumbar spine, which can eventually result in a significant injury.

RE: The Mushroom Factor of Hot Yoga
Answer
10/1/16 6:55 PM as a reply to C P M.
Thank you, CPM, for that insightful post.
With hot yoga, the sense of effort was from enduring the heat, and I didn’t understand the value of that.

Definitely worthy of consideration.
The understanding I’ve picked up over the years is that stress/tension accumulates in the body. It’s the concept of “body armour” from Wilhelm Reich. Asana’s will invariably hit those areas due to the fact there are so many poses, and some of those poses are bound to find the areas where you hold tension. In addition to that, if there is a shavasana component involving progressive relaxation, the release is even more effective. So, after a yoga session, you can find relief from the tension that is normally carried around in the body.
OMHO, yoga can potentially achieve the same results as meditation. Yoga works from the direction of body -> mind, whereas meditation would is from mind -> body. 

I appreciate the specificity you offer in these quotes.  It helps to clarify some of the ambiguous, mystical-shmystical language used by the teachers during class. 

There is obviously a fitness aspect.  Furthermore, proper technique & posture involves skeletal alignment, muscular strength, endurance, & flexibility, as well as cardiovascular endurance.  I suppose I'm confused about how this interfaces with physical & mental relaxation, mindfulness, and healing the traumas of the body.  My theory is that a certain base of physical capability is necessary before deeper healing can occur, but this may be misplaced emphasis.