Three Myths About Yoga
Yoga – even the word seems mystical and confusing. Fortunately, there are three myths about yoga that are easy to debunk.
MYTH 1: YOGA IS FOR WOMEN
The first myth is that yoga is for women.
This one makes me laugh every time! When yoga and yogic practices were being created, the practice was originally designed for men. One kind of yoga we practice here in the West, Ashtanga yoga, was designed for 11- and 12-year-old boys to help them develop their ability to concentrate.
MYTH 2: I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT BEFORE I DO YOGA
The second myth is a common one. “I need to lose weight before I do yoga.”
Yes, me too. I’d love to drop 5 pounds, 10 pounds or maybe more.
Losing weight would be great, but the benefits of yoga are available to anyone at any size. Tall and skinny? Yoga’s perfect for you. Short? Squishy in places? Yoga’s perfect for you. Medium sized? Long arms? Short legs? Yoga’s perfect for you, too.
If you have a serious medical condition, ask your doctor to give you the okay before taking a class. When you come to yoga, tell your teacher about your concerns. Let her or him know that you want to learn about yoga and feel good in your body. Most teachers will be able to help you enjoy your first class and leave with a smile on your face!
Regardless of your size, modifications are your friend, regardless of your size. If you try a pose and feel like it just isn’t right, ask the teacher to show you a modification right away. No pain, either. If you experience pain in a yoga pose, stop right away and take a break. Ask your teacher to show you another option. A good yoga teacher always has a range of options available for those new to yoga and more experienced yogis.
Yoga poses should make you feel good. Simple poses offer just as many benefits as advanced poses.
Another suggestion is to focus on the breathing. Deep breathing–genuine deep breathing–will make you feel amazing. Even if you come to class and remain seated the whole time, practicing breathing is a good focus.
MYTH 3: I’M NOT FLEXIBLE ENOUGH
The third myth is also common, and I hear this one regularly: “I’m not flexible.”
You’ve seen Facebook posts or Instagram photos, and you wonder, “Is that girl a pretzel?” Pictures you may have seen on social media showing yogis in advanced poses only represent a small number of yogis, and most of the people who practice yoga are just regular people.
Some yoga practitioners are really bendy, and they can get their bodies into all kinds of amazing shapes.
Here’s the really good news! You have an amazing body too, and you can experience all of the benefits of yoga at whatever level of flexibility you are at!
Can’t touch your toes? Most of the people I practice with can’t either. They still practice yoga, and we have a good time in class enjoying trying to touch our toes. Someday, we may be able to touch our toes. Getting there (or trying to get there) is a journey worth taking.
Tight shoulders? Tight hips? Tight hamstrings? Yes, yes, and yes. Lots of yoga practitioners experience tightness all over from sitting too much, not moving enough, or chasing their kids around. We’re working on our flexibility, and you’ll fit in wherever you’re at.
The next time you hear one of these myths about yoga, you’ll be able to laugh it off. You’ll know that none of these myths apply. You can appreciate your body and enjoy yoga just as you are!