Avoiding the Cobra Pose

Circumcision: Echoes in the Body
By Jeane Rhodes, Ph.D.

Recently, I completed a doctoral research project in which I investigated the possible link between the way children do selected yoga postures for the first time and their individual birth experiences. The body language of 22 children, five to nine years old, was carefully videotaped and analyzed. To learn about the children's birth experiences I interviewed the parents. After analysis of the data, I was able to identify specific elements in the performance of the yoga postures that could be perceived as clues to the child's prenatal and birth experience.

In the course of this research, I made an unexpected observation related to male circumcision. It can only be considered preliminary at this point, as the study was not designed to focus on this issue, and, had it not been so evident in this small sample, I probably would not have noticed it. Asking about circumcision had not been on my original list of questions for the interview with parents. Fortunately, the first father inter-viewed mentioned it, so I included a question about circumcision for all of the boys in the study.

What I observed was that the seven boys in the study who had been circumcised did not place their hips on the floor when doing an abdominal-lying-arch posture (the "cobra" pose for those of you familiar with yoga postures). In contrast, the two boys in the study who had not been circumcised did it easily.

When I mentioned this observation to a colleague who is a body-worker, she said she had noticed that her clients who had been circumcised were much more rigid in the pelvic area than those who had not been circumcised. If this very preliminary observation is confirmed, it would be coherent with a recent finding on the long-term effect of circumcision on pain tolerance. A team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario (1995) studied the pain responses of children having routine vaccinations four to six months after birth. They discovered that boys circumcised as infants had higher behavioral pain scores and cried longer.

Email Dr. Rhodes for more information at: drjeane@comcast.net



  1. My husband had a hernia operation yesterday.

    After seeing this article it occurred to me that if men do not engage in certain stretching positions that the muscles of the stomach wall will weaken with age and they will be more prone to hernias.

    I thought back and I couldn't remember the men of my grandfathers generation having the high incidence of hernias that we now have.

    Do you think there is some connection here?

  2. Wow! I wonder if there is some basis of "Latin hips" in this. Really, really fascinating!

  3. I'm so glad people are out there doing research like yours. It's important, and I hope people listen! Good luck!

  4. As someone who was circumcised at birth, the reason for circumcised boys not planting their hip firmly on the floor is glaringly obvious. The glans is exposed without the foreskin. I always took care to ensure that my penis was positioned so that the exposed glans would not be irritated. Just consider how a person favors their foot when there is a stone in their shoe. I favored my groin area because my unprotected glans would hurt if too much pressure was put on it.

    Now that I am restoring and my glans is protected by my restored foreskin, I have no trouble doing the Cobra pose. My glans is protected naturally and it does not hurt to put pressure on my penis.

  5. I've heard interesting tidbits from all over about lower body coordination / circumcision issue. One interesting idea is that circumcision is the reason Americans can't play soccer (football). We're not known for our dancing or figure skating either. I think there's a lot we don't understand about what happens to the brain and the lower body when circ is done.

  6. While I'm glad this is posted, do we really need research to understand why pushing some very tender parts, unprotected, against a hard surface might be painful???

  7. @mygrandmalucy, apparently (and sadly, indeed) we DO need such research. Any research that shows circumcision changes anything is a step toward ending this barbaric amputation.



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