Video Review of "The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards," by William J. Broad and a defense of my friend Larry Payne

In this video review, I accuse William J. Broad of launching an ad hominem attack on my friend Larry Payne.  Realizing this may need further explanation, I offer the following:

“Ad Hominem” literally means “against the man.” It is the name of an often-employed logical fallacy that seeks to refute a person’s ideas by discrediting their character.  For example, “Mr. Smith is known to be a drunkard, therefore his views on the economy should be dismissed.”

As I mentioned in the video, as a longtime friend of Larry Payne and teacher of the anatomy section of his LMU course each year in Los Angeles, I am hardly a neutral observer regarding Larry. This does not reduce my ability to offer objective criticism of Broad’s tactics in this part of his book.

On page 154 of “The Science of Yoga,” Broad lays the cornerstone of his attack: “If the origins of the modern field [yoga therapy] can be traced to a single person, it would be Larry Payne.”  Here, Broad is preparing a case of guilt by association in which he will try to discredit the entire field of “modern yoga therapy” by assaulting the character of the person he is identifying as its key founder. He will go on to portray Larry as an opportunistic huckster who, unlike Loren Fishman, M.D., one of Broad’s heroes, took what he considers an easy path to credibility by obtaining a Ph.D. from a questionable school. Broad goes on to point out some commonly-held physiological errors that ended up in Larry’s book “Yoga for Dummies” as a way of further discrediting him.

Broad’s clear goal in the chapter in question (chapter five for those following along) is to cast aspersions on the organization Larry helped to found, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), by drawing a parallel between what he perceives as Larry’s lack of a valid credential and the certificate one obtains upon joining IAYT. Broad observes that the IAYT membership certificate resembles a professional accreditation, but “a quick read shows that the document is in fact quite meaningless…The phony credential does an injustice to the talented yoga therapists who have labored for years and decades to develop their healing expertise and have helped countless people.”

This is a classic example of an ad hominem attack, setting up guilt by association. Forget the fact that Larry Payne is also one of the “talented yoga therapists who have labored for years and decades to develop their healing expertise and have helped countless people.”  Forget the fact that IAYT has never represented their membership certificate as anything other than what it clearly states on its face.  Forget the fact that never – to my knowledge – has any yoga therapist, whether a member of IAYT or not, expressed outrage over misrepresentation via a “phony credential.” Forget the fact that there is a real, live human being named Larry Payne at the other end of this attack who has been walking around for the past week feeling like he’s been simultaneously kicked in the gut and stabbed in the back by the writer to whom he granted – in good faith – full access and lengthy interviews.

William J. Broad makes a strong case for accurately representing oneself in the professional sphere.  Did he do that when he approached my friend Larry for the purpose of writing an authoritative book about the field in which he has faithfully labored for four decades?  I’m sure Larry Payne, Ph.D. welcomed Mr. Broad with the same open heart he offers to everyone he encounters.  He deserves far better than what he got in “The Science of Yoga.”


Comments (13)

Wow! Amazing, interesting and intellectually honest.
No, I won’t buy the book. But thanks for the

Susan in NY

Kausthub Desikachar

Dear Leslie, Well done. I think this is much needed, and Larry has done much to the field of Yoga Therapy. I am so glad you bring clarity around this.

I have always found Larry to be a consistently loving and generous mentor and teacher who combines spirituality with heart and intellect.

He did not originate yoga therapy – wasn’t that Krishnamacharya-ji? But Larry has used his own head, heart and creativity to spread the insights of yoga therapy in the West.

If it helps, Freud was an innovator who did not escape attack, either! Also people walked out on Beethoven’s music when it was first performed, and slashed the canvases of the Impressionists. The Vatican subjected Galileo to house arrest, while insisting the earth was flat. Perhaps Mr. Broad needs to become more broad-minded!

Thanks for posting this Leslie! I have known Larry as a dedicated yoga teacher for over 25 years, I know many people he has helped restore to health through his thorough knowledge and out of the box ( the asana box) knowledge about yoga. His has decades long sincere study with the best of the East and the West ! It is a different kind of degree. Larry Payne is one of the truly compassionate yoga teachers who has a real commitment to serving his students and fostering unity in the yoga community. He would never have presided over a yoga class that suggested some of the injurious practices that injured Mr Black. It seems to me that Broad has a vendetta ” a feud in which members of opposing parties murder each other” and he seems to be on the side of doctors who of course are beyond error.
It might be funny if it wasn’t so…not funny.

Bravo Leslie!
Among many many accomplishments, Larry pioneered IAYT as a bridge between Yoga and medicine, bringing much rigor and credibility to the whole field in the early days, and he is still a pioneer with the first Yoga therapy training program offering certification through a university.  Now IAYT publishes the International Journal of Yoga Therapy as a peer reviewed Pub Med indexed journal, and produces the Symposium on Yoga Therapy, the only academic Yoga research conference  in the West, and well as the Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research (for practitioners) where Loren Fishman has been
one of the most popular presenters, and 40% or so of the attendees have a professional health care license of one kind.    

Leslie, I always enjoy your raw honesty. Many people in the yoga community strike back against this book w/negative blanket statements. I am grateful for the way you see ‘what Mr. Broad gets right’, and then where he gets stuck in his own agenda–which is the true travesty of this book. THANK YOU! I will widely share this video.

only the first of many arrows….once you start doing something of value and quality, then the criticism starts…we made it!
That is nothing compared to what will follow from other healthcare professions that feel threatened by YRx in the future…so we continue doing what we must and not being distracted by the naysayers.

As for Larry, well he’s in pretty good company now….anyone that steps out to share their heart and soul leaves themselves wide open to attack as well….Ghandi, Jesus, MLK, etc ….thx for taking the shots Larry…the people that matter know better and the work you started will continue to demonstrate errors of this one man’s misguided effort.

Wow! Now this is really going too far – discrediting Larry Payne! – not nice…

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been sharing your comments/videos with students and friends. Did I say thank you?

Larry Payne is a dear friend of mine in yoga. In all my years in yoga and my wide travels, i haven’t met too many on this planet who have such love, empathy and who truly want the best for yoga and the growth of other human beings. After being welcomed heartily and with openness, to cast aspirations on such a great human being is truly hitting below the belt and smacks of treacherous tendencies that are not based on human qualities. I am honored to be part of IAYT and deeply privileged to be considered a friend of Larry. I stand by him 100%

Dear Leslie,
Bright shining star that you are! Thank you for your efforts on behalf of all of us out here who practice and teach yoga and who use yoga as a therapeutic tool to help others. Unfortunately, we are going to have to do our work with the western medical practitioners again, who say yoga is dangerous and who won’t refer people to us because of this new attack. As a physical therapist and a graduate of Larry Payne’s yoga therapy program, I say the same as Matt: welcome to the world of the wrongly maligned! He is a wonderful Yogi with a heart as big as the world and doesn’t deserve this attack. We love him and we love you too Leslie – for “telling it like it is”. Deep bows to you!

Thank you Leslie for offering a rebuttal to what is clearly an unfounded and unnecessary attack on a person who has helped bring healing and education to many people as well as an organization which has helped many like myself learn how to implement the therapeutic benefits of yoga. It serves no purpose to tear others down, especially when it is based on untruths. Thanks for speaking up as you are well respected in this field…

Right On Leslie!!!!! However, I will not waste my $ or time reading this book….. I fully support Larry’s efforts and Loren’s efforts and the efforts of IAYT’s. Your comments of his comments certainly reflect the vast human experience and personalities that make us learn and listen!!!!
Nataly Pluta

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