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Thank you for reporting on Burma. the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have a greater role to play. They should pressure the junta to free Aung San Suu Kyi and bring democracy to Burma. But ASEAN and China are instead protecting their business interests at the expense of the people of Burma.
Jeff Teh, BANGKOK
If a man harms his family in a civilized country, the police are called in to stop him. If a gang of thugs terrorizes a neighborhood, the police mount an operation to shut them down. However, if you are audacious enough to organize an even bigger gang of thugs, you can take over a whole country. Call yourself some sort of political party, and the world's media will obligingly use this title, thus helping legitimize your crimes, as most notoriously happened in Germany in the early 1930s. The governments and diplomats of the world will talk to you in the vain belief that because you claim to be a political organization, this somehow means you are reasonable people. Meanwhile, you can abuse, torture, murder and rob the nation's people at will, as has happened on so many occasions in the past century. Is morality applicable only on a small scale? We get the politicians we deserve, goes the saying. But do the gentle, life-revering Buddhists of Burma and Tibet deserve the thugs who control them?
Peter Phillpotts, MATLOCK, ENGLAND
Gain with No Pain?
Yoga in its original form is a multifaceted, millenniums-old discipline that spans physical, ethical, psychological and spiritual dimensions [Oct. 15]. In our mass-market Western world, those aspects of yoga have largely been jettisoned, and the physical is marketed as a hot new form of calisthenics. Used skillfully, the physical elements offer benefits such as enhanced flexibility, agility and body awareness. Used unskillfully, they can not surprisingly damage muscles and ligaments. Wise practitioners will proceed gently and carefully under a good teacher and eventually look beyond the physical to yoga's deeper potentials.
Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Psychiatry Department, University of California College of Medicine IRVINE, CALIF., U.S.
Last January I entered a beginner's yoga class with expert teachers to cure annual spasms of back pain. During a series of downward dogs, my back seized up as it never had before. I had to crawl out of the studio and have other people put my shoes back on for me while I stood there crying. I am still recovering. One physical therapist told me that many of the bending poses are murder on the disks. No more yoga for me. I'll stick with Pilates.
Connie McDougall, SEATTLE
Done correctly, yoga increases strength and might head off osteoporosis. And Ashtanga yoga sure fires up my cardio system. So I suppose a limited workout done by an infrequent weekend warrior would probably offer little benefit and may cause injury. But for those of us who practice consistently, the benefits are quite clear and compelling.
Steve Crawford, JYVSKYL, FINLAND
I was a gym rat for more than 12 years, lifting weights, running on the treadmill and doing high-impact aerobics. I was always getting injured and often had to go to a chiropractor. Now that I have been doing yoga, my pain has subsided, and I don't need a chiropractor.
Kiana Martinez, LOS ANGELES
Yoga done correctly and without an athletic competitive edge is for everyone. I am 76 years of age and began yoga four years ago. Following the Iyengar yoga method of correct alignment, I leave each session feeling at least 20 years younger especially after standing on my head for five minutes.
De Vee Lange, SAN DIEGO
As a yoga teacher, I was taken aback by the article "When Yoga Hurts" [Oct. 15]. I fear its lack of balance might scare people away from a practice that offers far more benefits than drawbacks. Yes, yoga like Spinning and running can be harmful if practiced incorrectly, but its more than 5,000-year history and its millions of practitioners worldwide attest to its benefits. Besides building strength and increasing flexibility, yoga has been shown to have a positive effect on depression, anxiety, insomnia and core physiology.
DAVE EMERSON, CAMBRIDGE, MASS., U.S.