When I talk about practising Yoga, I have noticed quite a few people have misconceptions about it. There are a lot of myths surrounding yoga, some that I once believed, and have come to find out are untrue.
Myth 1: Yoga is too easy
I used to be a pure gym bunny, one that would run for miles on the treadmill thinking that I wouldn’t get any benefit or break into sweat from standing in tree pose whilst minutes passed by. Oh how wrong I was! It was actually this myth that got me into yoga, as for a short time I was put onto beta blockers and couldn’t manage any strenuous exercise but I wanted to move my body and stretch. And so I thought ‘yoga! that’s easy!’ and I popped a You Tube video on and so I began. And my first thought was ‘Woah, that was harder than I expected!’.
It is unlike most forms of exercise, coordinating your mind and body. It requires you to use every muscle in your body. There are more gentle poses for those who want a slower work out, but if you are after a more challenging practice then try Ashtanga, where you move more swiftly through poses. Or challenge yourself to certain poses such as holding yourself in Crow or attempting a head stand.
I have seen my body become so much more toned than it ever was when I would go to the gym and run myself into a sweat on the treadmill. I have found it a much more beneficial exercise, both for fitness, toning, and a healthy mind. You can make it your own practice, whether that be a more gentle asana or more of a challenge.
Myth 2: Yoga is too hard
On the other end of the spectrum, another opinion about Yoga is that it is too difficult. It can seem daunting, especially if attending a class and you are having visions of all these bendy yogi’s surrounding you. But the important lesson that I have learnt through my practice, is that you have to listen to your own body, and progress at your own pace. There are so many variations to each pose, allowing for individual abilities. You don’t have to be able to do the splits or a head stand, you are where you need to be. Don’t be intimidated by some of the more advanced poses, I have been practising every day for a year now and am still unable to do a lot of poses. I don’t see them as necessary things for me to learn, i just enjoy the practice of yoga itself. It is not about forcing yourself into a pose, more about adopting the pose to fit your body and where it is in that moment. Listen to your body’s signals of comfort and discomfort and adapt to what feels best for you. You may surprise yourself by trying a more challenging pose but it will be a natural progression.
Myth 3: You have to be flexible and in shape to practice Yoga
Carrying on from the previous myth, many people get scared off from Yoga by seeing images of flexible yogis managing to get their limbs into all manner of shapes. They see someone and mistakenly assume that the flexibility and strength are prerequisites, when in fact they come from practising. Yoga builds strength, balance and flexibility and is for every body. Thick or thin, tall or short, young or old – yoga is adaptable to your own practice.
Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down – Judith Hanson Lasater
Myth 4: You need certain clothing and equipment to practice Yoga
There is an abundance of yoga gear available, which is great to those who want to invest in these add-ons, but in no way is it essential. All you really need is your body, and your mind. If you don’t have a mat, a towel can be used instead or just simply practice directly on the floor. Yoga is about a deeper awareness, and so yoga pants and flashy mats, though are lovely to have (I received my wonderful leafy mat as a gift), are not a requirement to begin your practice. I sometimes just practice in my pyjamas – whatever is comfortable and you can stretch in!
Myth 5: Yoga is for hippies
Yoga is a practice that encourages a connection, love and self-awareness with the world and with that, many yogi’s become more mindful of their actions and choices. You don’t have to become a vegetarian, stop using certain products and collect healing crystals to practice yoga. You could practice solely as a workout, as a way of toning up, or equally to become more mindful and incorporating a calmness to your day. You can choose how to use your practice – no-one is there to judge you!
Myth 6: Yoga takes up too much time
It can seem intimidating to attend a yoga class that is around 60-90 minutes long, and you may not have that time to spare. But you can practice from home via You Tube (I recommend Boho Beautiful) where there are classes available around the 10-15 minutes mark. You can set up your practice anywhere in the house and always make time – even if its 10 minutes. I didn’t go to any classes for a very long time, simply self teaching myself with short bursts.
Myth 7: Yoga is an expensive luxury
Yes yoga classes can be pricey, I myself currently am not in the financial position to afford to attend classes, instead I treat myself now and again to go to a class. I started practising regularly at home after I lost my job and have self-taught myself via free You Tube tutorials over the past year. I practiced in my pyjamas and some old joggers I already owned. I later received a mat as a birthday gift which is one of my most treasured items now.I hope this post helped disregard any preconceptions you had about yoga and encourage you to give it a go – there is nothing stopping you!!