Explode the Myth of Neutrality
Throughout the history of yoga poses, some therapists have always claimed and still claim that they follow the lead of the client. In most instances, what they are really saying is that they listen to the patient but actually follow the dictates of their training and processes. Similarly, some therapists insist that they practice neutrality, but they are neutral only in a godlike, judgmental sense. When they pathologize normal people with issues, they show a clear bias toward viewing patients as diseased. Neutrality was Freud’s concept to protect the client from the therapist’s projections onto the client (known as countertransference). But if a therapist is judging or trying to control the client, neutrality is not truly being practiced.
Throughout the history of yoga poses, minorities were often victims of therapists when, in reality, neutrality was breached. Even though pathologizing has hurt many people in yoga poses, minorities have been especially injured by judgment stemming from cultural bias. Women, African Americans, gays and lesbians, Hispanics, and many other minorities were often judged and further oppressed by therapists the very people they turned to for help and true neutrality. That is why, to this day, minorities often avoid yoga poses, because of the stories passed down to them of abuse and bias.
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For example, years ago, before it was popular to have a career alongside men, a woman who wished to choose nontraditional career paths or life paths would most likely be judged by a therapist. For instance, Susan wanted to be a firefighter and also happened to be a lesbian. Years ago, if she had worked with a therapist, it would have been likely that her therapist would have pathologized both her hopes to be a firefighter and the fact that she had a lesbian orientation. This judgment coming from her therapist would have made it impossible for her to thrive in her yoga poses.
Raymond, a black architect, sought help for confidence issues. He had low self-esteem like so many other people. He wanted to address it because he suffered from anxiety-causing performance issues at the workplace and in his sexual relationship with his wife. He sought yoga poses, and his therapist told him that part of his problem might be not being as intelligent as other people at his job and that he probably would never fit in. Raymond wisely fired the therapist and decided to look for a new therapist who would address his issues in a helpful and affirming manner.
Biases in yoga poses continue to this day. Yoga offers all people an opportunity to work on their life design in true neutrality, in an environment of positive regard without judgment and interpretation. When both parties are committed, accountable, and responsible, it is much easier to go forward without prejudices or hidden agendas creeping into the process.
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