TOP 10 YOGA MISCONCEPTIONS
Being a yoga practitioner for over six years (which includes over a year of teaching yoga), I often observe a pattern of thinking that appears to be on loop when it comes to yoga. With an accumulative insight from my fellow yoga teacher peers, I present to you the top ten most heard misconceptions surrounding yoga! Feel free to read each of my disputes against these common misunderstood attitudes, or just quickly skim through and read what resonates with you.
6."Yoga is a religion and therefore conflicts with my beliefs."
While historically speaking yoga was platformed around religions such as Buddhism, it is not a requirement to incorporate those beliefs into your yoga practice today. Look at it this way, just as the poses are meant to cater to you and your body and your specific needs in each moment, so to is your yoga practice. Personally, I find that my yoga practice serves to deepen my connection to God and the universe; ideals that I believe and hold close to my heart. Yoga itself is not a religion and never has been. Yoga is a tool to connect the practitioner to their ____________ (you fill in the blank with what fits you: God, universe, higher being, self power, etc). You can absolutely be a Christian, or atheist for that matter, and practice yoga.
5. "I am too overweight, or too old."
Some of the misconceptions surrounding what yoga is, are largely due to social media. At times, what is portrayed online to represent yoga is not always the most inclusive. If you actually give yoga a try though, you will see a wide variety of body types, ages, etc. There are so many modifications, both to increase sensation and decrease sensation, that each person can take. Any yoga class you take is YOUR class to decide what is right for your body, the teacher is just there to guide and encourage you along the way. Additionally, everyone is a beginner at some point! You have to start somewhere, so even if you feel like you are too heavy or too old today, give yourself the time and consistency necessary & you will witness immense growth within yourself. Again, keep in mind that there are various styles of yoga that may fit your needs and goals better than others!
2. "Yoga isn't really for men."
I think sometimes men feel uncomfortable with the idea of taking a yoga class often times saturated with women. As if the femininity will emasculate them (p.s. the class itself is far from feminine). Or they think that perhaps the class will be full of chants and hippie hand holding (again, this is definitely a style of yoga but is not all yoga). However, there is space for even the manliest men to gain many benefits from practicing yoga. There are many male athletes who combine yoga with their sport to elevate their performance even more so. Again, keeping in mind what you are looking to receive from a yoga class, will dictate which style might fit you better. There are hard, power intensive classes that will increase strength and flexibility for men and women alike. Real men do yoga!
1. "I am not flexible enough to do yoga."
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this one, I would legit be a millionaire. You can really substitute the word flexible with anything. I once heard my yoga teacher put it this way- "you take college courses to learn so you can obtain the knowledge (usually for a degree), you wouldn't take the classes if you already had the knowledge." Yoga is similar in that logic, we go to yoga to become more flexible in the body and the mind. Never becoming complacent, there is always room for improvement. We never reach this final perfect place in our practice and then stop practicing. We have to show up, put in the work (which is sometimes letting go) and let the physical effects transpire over time. Nobody ever shows up to their first, or thousandth yoga class, perfectly flexible and ready to tackle any pose given. That's an unrealistic expectation that you are unfairly putting on yourself! Stop it, and just get your booty to yoga. Allow the changes to manifest with each practice, each failure and each success. That is the first step to understanding what yoga really is.
I hope I was able to debunk at least a few of these common misconceptions and convince you otherwise. If there is anything I missed that you have thought or have often heard, please share them!