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.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.

Cobra Pose

man doing cobra pose

9 thoughts on “Avoiding the cobra pose

  1. Circumcision status should be a question in every medical study. If it is included, I am certain that many connections to the birth trauma will be established. Why is it not included in all the studies conerning autism? Autism affects boys at a much higher rate than girls. I am sure that birth trauma other than circumcision could account for the autism in girls and the few intact boys, but the connection between birth trauma (circumcision) and the high rate of autism among boys looks clear to me.

  2. Thanks Gloria for always finding & sharing such valuable & important information. I homebirthed & left my 3 boys intact; now I’m a Natural Birth educator/facilitator/activist and will definitely be including this in my circumcision vs. intact talks. Blessings

  3. We’re all familiar with the common notion that “white guys can’t dance.”

    Now I’m wondering if the stiffness I’ve observed among my WASP male friends on the dance floor had something to do with circumcision trauma.

  4. not to throw a wrench in it or try to defend circ (believe me, i’m not), but i’ve observed my 5-year-old, regrettably circed son adopt this pose almost daily for years of his own accord. he may just be the rarity, but i wanted to put it out there.

  5. It makes me wonder, if the hip area is “stiffer” in circ’d boys, whether they learn to crawl later (in general) than uncirc’d boys…

  6. As an undergraduate research project at my university focused on circumcision and prevalence of male-selective psychological disorders, I correlated U.S. neonatal circumcision percentages (on a state-by-state basis) and U.S. state-by-state diagnosis percentages for: 1) prevalence of childhood autism, 2) prevalence of childhood ADHD diagnoses (hyperactivity), and 3) prevalence of alzheimers. I did this because I once read an anti-neonatal-circumcision nurse’s comments that she believed circumcision could be linked to male-prevalent psychological disorders (specifically to autism which affects far more boys in childhood that girls).

    The results of my correlation studies were slightly negative for autism, definitely positive for ADHD, and absolutely zero correlation for alzheimers. In other words, neonatally circumcised boys, in my study, were shown to be: 1) very slightly less likely to be autistic, 2) highly prone to being diagnosed for ADHD, 3) lacking correlation to the prevalence of alzheimers in older generations. The study was based on 26 states which collected data for state-wide neonatal circumcision percentages AND the male-prevalent disorders studied. I simply compared the 13 states with the highest circumcision percentages against the 13 states with lowest circumcision percentages for the various male-prevalent disorders.

    After doing this research, I find the observations of the yoga instructor very interesting. I wish more people would publish their behavioral observations regarding neonatally circumcised boys compared to uncircumcised boys. I personally find my somewhat serendipitous [serendipitous because I was originally thinking that there was likely a positive link between neonatal circumcision and autism] behavioral correlation regarding neonatal circumcision and ADHD (childhood hyperactivity diagnoses) to be very thought-provoking and far more rewarding than the $1000 stipend I received for my study.

  7. Pingback: Debate on Circumcision (from medical pov) - IB Islamic Forum

  8. Interesting that a slightly negative correlation was found between circumcision and autism. I have read numerous mothers’ descriptions of the difference in their baby boys before and after circumcision. Words like “glazed over expression,” “refused to nurse,” and “terrified” come to mind. I believe that circumcision can create a profound sense of betrayal in the boy that his mother did not protect him from this trauma. And this, I suspect, can affect attachment and bonding.
    Erik Tootell

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