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Bent out of shape 

Bent out of shape

Although I am grateful to be included in the yoga community with being so new, I really did not appreciate this comment in the "Yoga yoga yoga" article (Jan. 2): "The only thing about yin, or at least Stacey's yin class, is that it practically ignores the upper body. After class, you're floating from the waist down, and from the waist up, you're still tight as a fiddle."

There are different levels and degrees of yin yoga. Extreme yin and most all yin classes focus on the area between the navel and the knees — rarely the shoulders. Those are the areas with the deepest bands of connective tissue. The upper body, including the shoulders, is held for a much smaller time frame, usually three minutes or less. In an extreme yin class we focus on the eight thick bands of connective tissue that run down the spine, holding postures for five minutes on up. So yes, in some yin classes you will not get a stretch for the shoulders. Sadly, if you would have done your research instead of attending just one class, you could have written an informative write-up for the public regarding this form of yoga that has never been taught in Little Rock before. Maybe next time get some information from the source.

As for all the other studios, the mama bear in me wants to give my two cents about what you said about them also, but I'll keep my mouth shut and let them decide if they want to defend themselves.

Stacey Swanson, yogini/owner

MeridiYIN'z Yoga Studio

Find middle ground

Your newspaper recently published an editorial lamenting Michigan's passing of a "right-to-work" bill (Dec. 19). The premise of the editorial was that this was bad for Michigan and that its citizens' "standard of living would decline."

I enjoy reading your editorials and columnists' writings although I have to admit frequently I will think to myself, "Surely they don't really believe what they say ... and they are just stating extreme positions for effect!" In the same manner as extreme conservative writers on the right, when you state far left positions as your beliefs it marginalizes your position and makes you appear inflexible and intractable. Just because a position is stated by a union does not make it right and being pro-union in all cases as your newspaper tends to do only damages your credibility for thoughtful readers. There is no place in actual governing for those extremities other than to make a point and good leadership (as well as good journalism) includes finding acceptable middle ground between extremists.

While most of the time I do not know enough to make a meaningful comment about your editorials, I happen to have good knowledge about Michigan and the effect of its unions. I lived in Detroit for a number of years, was an employer of a Michigan workforce and spent a good many years early in my career working in union-workforce factories in other states. I can assure you that much of the UAW-dominated Detroit area workforce was hostile, considered itself privileged, was unwilling to work hard and was frequently focused in opposition to producing quality work for their employers. In the case of the UAW, this attitude significantly contributed to the demise of the once-great U.S. automobile industry. Any change to reduce the bullying dominance of the UAW in Detroit will likely result in more employment and fair wages, not a reduced standard of living.

There is more to the impact of a union workforce than higher wages. There is no doubt unions were a valuable addition to U.S. industry during the Industrial Revolution because of worker abuses by some companies. However, union power can and has been every bit as corrupting to sound business practices as the implied "corporate greed" your paper is so quick to write about. The UAW's drive to secure wages that were higher than the value of the work performed, the onerous long-term financial impact of the union-demanded retirement benefits and in particular the cumbersome work rules that breed factory inefficiency all led to a non-competitive workforce for the U.S. automobile industry and therefore a non-competitive product.

Unions thrived in the post war 1950s and 1960s U.S. economy in all types of manufacturing and particularly the automobile industry. At that time the U.S. was the dominant world industrial power and most of its industries, including its automotive industry, were world leaders because there was minimal competition. Over time powerful unions tend to distort business economics toward workers and if there is no competition that is not a problem. In competitive markets however, that imbalance quickly shows up as high costs and low quality, which was apparent as U.S. industry faced worldwide competition and lost its leadership role. It is interesting to note that in today's truly global economy, U.S. unions thrive only in the public sector — where there is no competition!

Rather than take a pot shot at Michigan's awkward attempt to improve its economy through legislation, why not instead write about the commendable success of the government-funded corporate bail-out of GM? It truly is working because the UAW had to concede its control significantly in order for GM to be competitive. In good companies, success comes when all employees, including management and the labor force, work together for the common good of creating high quality products and services over the long term. That was true in the past and is still true today. Anything that detracts from that common goal, and unions often do, is negative.

Collins Andrews

Little Rock

Submit letters to the Editor, Arkansas Times, P.O. Box 34010, Little Rock, AR 72203. We also accept letters via e-mail. The address is arktimes@arktimes.com. We also accept faxes at 375-3623. Please include name and hometown.

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