Yoga has been around for many years, and the rise in popularity is still increasing with its bounty of benefits mentally, physically, and spiritually. Let’s dispel some of the many myths about yoga so that they no longer stand in the way of you starting a yoga practice, and you too can reap all of the benefits that are on the other side of any objection. P.S. You don’t need to touch your toes, or have trendy yoga pants, and an expensive mat to practice. Yoga has no requirements.
Myth 1: Yoga is only for women
There is no doubt that yoga is popular with the ladies! When yoga was introduced to the West, it attracted a large female following. However, this wasn’t always the case. Yoga was traditionally practiced almost exclusively by men in ancient India. Regardless, yoga is not a gender-specific activity. Anyone can practice and benefit from a regular yoga practice.
Myth 2: Yoga is a religion
This one comes up a lot, and to the uninitiated student it can be misinterpreted because of the spiritual element that comes with practicing yoga. It’s important to understand that yoga is not a religion. Some yoga practices do include an element of mantras and chants due to its roots in India, but they are not required to participate in while practicing yoga and they do not mean you are “converting” to yoga. Mantras and chants are used to gain focus and awaken within. The spiritual element in yoga is meant to connect you to a Higher Power, one that’s non-denominational, so you can do yoga while practicing your own religion if you choose to. Although, you do not need to be spiritual or religious to benefit from practicing yoga.
Myth 3: You have to be flexible to do yoga
Contrary to all of the pictures on social media depicting people contorting their bodies in different yoga poses, yoga is really about creating mindfulness in motion. It’s about following the breath while moving through various body postures. It’s about presence and self acceptance. Furthermore, yoga is really a part of a larger eight-limbed practice that is in regards to ethics, meditation, and breathwork. Not everyone will be capable of accessing every pose, and that’s okay! Modifications are always given to meet you where you’re at and to build upon your current physical abilities. You do not have to be flexible but if you come as you are, practice regularly, surrender, and watch how you develop in your own body and ability to be mindful, flexibility will be a natural by-product.
Myth 4: All yoga is the same
Yoga is an ancient practice and has evolved over the years. Not all yoga is the same and not all instructors go through the same training. There are many types of yoga from Hatha, Bikram, to Kundalini, and Yin to name a few. Each one focuses on using different methods and modalities as an access to the many benefits of the practice. Yoga is not about the “no pain, no gain” mindset. In fact, one of the core principles of the practice is to “do no harm” and that includes to yourself. So, finding the right yoga practice for you is important.
Myth 5: Yoga is not a workout
Yoga is meant to exhaust your physical body and mind to clear space and align your energy for meditation, but with the evolution of yoga and the many forms of practices, yoga is definitely a work out. Even though there isn’t any weight training involved, a regular practice will increase your strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance having your functionality and quality of life improve. Yoga uses the resistance of postures against your body-weight and core to access and hold each posture which leads to the increase in physical fitness.
Myth 6: You have to be young and thin to practice yoga
Yoga is for any body type and for any age. According to the 2016 Yoga in America survey, only 19-percent of American practitioners fell into the 18-29 age bracket, with the vast majority of practitioners over age 30, and 38-percent of them falling into the 50+ category. Not only that, but every body type is welcome and capable of beginning a practice. Don’t let social media fool you, no matter your body type or age, yoga is inclusive and welcoming