I’m surprised by the ongoing reaction to my article, “Why I Do Feldenkrais Instead of Yoga”.
Most feedback has been supportive, affirming and encouraging. Yet some people who do Feldenkrais and yoga have objected, not to the article itself, in which I describe my personal experience, some of which they even relate to, but to the title. They wished I had chosen a different one, one in which ‘yoga’ did not appear.
“You’re comparing apples and oranges,” they say.
Which is odd, because most of my article is a description of how doing Feldenkrais made me realize that I no longer wished to do yoga. I included a few examples to illustrate my point while avoiding direct comparison as much as possible.
Still, apples and oranges are both fruit, round-ish, grow on trees, are usually sweet, have skin and seeds and yield juice. They might seem more similar than different to a person who had never heard of either. Having established similarities, one could next explore differences in texture, color and taste between them, or even amongst different varieties of apples (or oranges). There is no end to making subtler distinctions, which do not contradict shared traits. For the many people unfamiliar with Feldenkrais, both the name and the method, I thought it would be useful for them to know that it shares basics characteristics with yoga as a way of offering a rough mental map, a first approximation. Both activities involve (slow) guided movements done on a mat or a blanket, often while lying on the back, sometimes while kneeling or sitting in various ways. Both require some investment of time and money. That the similarities might end there does not negate their broad sameness in the grand scheme of things. They have more in common with each other than they do with bowling, for example.
“But the yoga you were doing would not be considered yoga by people in India,” they say (ergo, I shouldn’t have used that four letter word).
I agree that in being transplanted to the West, yoga has morphed into something else, and I practiced some of its more vigorous and Americanized forms. And yet, that four letter word is and was used to describe sequences of movements that are taught around this country, just as “Chinese” food that is served here might barely resemble what is eaten in China. Yet for the sake of simplicity, we say, “Let’s go out for Chinese food,” rather than, “Let’s have a third generation adaptation of Szechuan cuisine with some quasi-Cantonese appetizers.” The latter might be more accurate, but it’s a mouthful.
“But Feldenkrais and yoga are not exclusive,” they say.
I scratched my head, wondering if they had even read the whole article. They are not exclusive and never would I make such a claim. Indeed, I wrote that Feldenkrais helps with all movement, including getting into chaturanga (a yoga pose). Still, I no longer wish to do yoga anymore. Apparently, that I have chosen one instead of the other and decided to share my story has pushed some buttons, as if I had used a four letter word. Which, I guess, I did.