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.Â
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 interviewed 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 cir-cumcised. 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.