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.


10. "Yoga is too easy, I need something that will challenge me."

I hear this all the time. Most people's perspective on yoga is that its very relaxing and has a lot of stretching. I can't tell you how many times I have heard this over my yoga journey. While there are some forms of yoga that do involve just stretching (think Yin Yoga) that does not encompass ALL yoga. There are numerous yoga classes available to take that are challenging, sweaty and super fun! Trust me, you can't learn how to do handstand pushups if you're just stretching (& yes, we work things like handstand pushups)! Vinyasa flow is one style to look out for if this is the type of class you're desiring.

9."Yoga is just another workout, like crossfit."

I know, I just mentioned handstand pushups in #10, could I be any more contradictory? There is also a false representation that yoga is just about working out. The philosophical side, along with all the other limbs of yoga often get left behind and only asana (the physical practice or poses) is focused on. Yoga is a tool for healing and offers so much more than just a good work out. Yes, yoga can give you strong arms and help you lose weight, but that isn't really what it's about. It may be the reason you start yoga, but don't let it be the only reason you keep showing up on your mat. Breath, focus and meditation are all aspects of the practice that you'll inevitably start to see positively seep into your life. Yoga is sneaky like that!

8. "I can't stay focused long enough to practice yoga or meditate."

There is almost an expectation that if you practice yoga or meditate, then you must be perfect. There is this idea that all of your thoughts need to stop during this time and that if you can't easily find the concentration needed for the practice then it's not working or for you. That simply isn't the case. We are human and just like everything else, stillness (in the mind and in the body) takes practice. Ongoing practice, indefinitely. It is something that changes every time we show up on our mat. Asana is one vehicle to help us quiet the mind, but sometimes that isn't even enough. Instead of showing up with expectation of perfection, allow yourself a little grace and gratitude for taking the time to show up. Yogi's practice yoga to confront and deal with their shit, not because they are perfect and already have it all figured out. 

7. "I tried yoga once, I didn't like it."

Like many experiences in life, sometimes the first impression isn't always its correct or truest representation. Finding the right yoga studio, style of yoga and teacher that you can find that connection with is key to finding your home in yoga. Just because you didn't like one class, doesn't mean that you don't like yoga. Keep exploring different classes, teachers and studios- eventually you'll find your right fit. Yoga really is for everyone, you just have to be open and patient about letting it happen when it feels right.

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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. 

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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!

4. "Yoga is too expensive."

While this can be the case at times, there are a ton of other options available to those who want to practice yoga but can't afford a hefty $65-$100 monthly membership. Most studios offer donation based classes, so those in the community can practice without obligation to pay a certain amount. There are many online classes that you can take in the comfort of your home, with the convenience of your schedule for as little as $15 a month. A couple reputable sites worth checking out are Yogaglo and Yogis Anonymous. Studios often have promotional deals as well, where you can get a great deal on annual contracts or package deals. There are even free YouTube classes that you can follow. One more tip worth mentioning as well is that most studios offer occupational discounts (students, teachers, nurses, etc.) so make sure to ask!

3."I can't do a handstand or arm balance, so I won't be able to do anything."

Piggybacking on the previous idea of social media's lack of inclusiveness, there is also a sense of ego and intimidation being perpetuated online. Yoga= crazy pose that I will never be able to do, so why even try? First of all, please don't set those limitations on yourself- we see no more than we expect to see. Secondly, the crazy pose you see constantly posted is not the end result of yoga. It does not mean that you've reached samadhi. There are multiple expressions of every pose that you can pretty much think of. So trust me when I say, there will be an option for you to work! Some days I practice handstands, other days I work my standing split. Same pose, two different expressions of the pose.

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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! 

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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!

Xx.

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*To find any of the yogis pictured above, just click the photo!