Chances are at some point someone has said to you, “You should do yoga”. However, as yoga has become more popular and widespread so have the misconceptions about what yoga really is. Some of the things you’ve heard may be confusing or a total turn off. I want to set the record straight regarding 4 yoga myths that may be keeping you from your yoga practice.
01 MYTH: I'm not flexible enough
This is the one myth I hear the most. It’s like saying you are too dirty to take a shower. Starting yoga with less flexibility can be advantageous. You are less likely to get injured by over-stretching. Practicing yoga will help you understand the map and structure of your body. Practicing yoga consistently will help you will build on that understanding and recognize your end ranges and limitations and respect them.
Increasing flexibility has many benefits including, increased circulation, improved healing, lubrication and stability of your joints, and better mobility. Feeling aches and pains takes so much joy out of daily life. Moving your body through a healthy range of motion will help reduce those aches and pains.
Think of it this way, if you are really not flexible, then you won't need to go as far or as deep into a pose to get the same outcome or result and benefit. As you practice more, your body’s flexibility will improve and you gradually progress into different variations of poses. My advice, keep a sense of humor because we all need it when we practice yoga. It’s not always easy, but it’s beneficial.
02 MYTH: I’m too old and not fit enough
You are never too old or too unfit to begin yoga. In fact, those are 2 very good reason why you should. What is aging? It’s when then degeneration becomes greater than the regeneration. How old are you? Does that number even matter? You may be 72, but you feel 42. Regardless of your age, your body needs attentive nourishment.
As we age our muscles need more tending to in order to keep them strong for better circulation and vascular health. Yoga provides an opportunity to do just that as well as strengthen your bones and keep your nerves firing optimally. Yoga also helps keep our digestion healthy which tends to get sluggish with age. In addition, practicing yoga can help reduce stress and increase mental acuity which will keep your confidence blooming and spirits high.
Yoga is a gentle approach to feel more comfortable and manage the changes with aging. It is never too late to begin. Find a teacher you like and trust and just start. I think you will be surprised with the benefits yoga can easily provide for a healthier body.
03 MYTH: Yoga is woo woo
The word "yoga" may bring to mind for some people, flowy printed pants, incense, mystical words, and chanting. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but in the case that those things may seem, woo woo to you, that’s not what defines yoga. A lot of yoga, especially yoga classes in gyms and fitness studios do not focus on the woo woo. Yoga can simply be an application to reduce low back pain, release your tight hip flexors, reduce stress, or strengthen your butt muscles.
There is a large population of people just like me who tried yoga because they wanted to get more flexible, stronger is certain areas and edge off some of the stress. Everyone can benefit from slowing down and taking a breath in yoga.
I have a tiny bit of woo woo in me, but when I teach I keep the woo woo out of it because I really can’t reconcile it. I focus on the physical postures and breathing technique. I suggest honing in on subtle internal shifts, but that’s the physiological effects I’m directing awareness to. That’s not woo woo, that’s science.
04 MYTH: Yoga is a religion
Yoga has never been about transforming you to a specific belief system. Yoga is an application that provides methods for self improvement. Do some people practice yoga religiously? Yes. Do some people consider yoga their religion? Yes. But, there is no required belief system to practice yoga. The yoga philosophy intention is to support you in self-transformation, asking important questions, gaining insights and discernment, and to help you make your own informed choices. Yoga is an offering of methods for self development and improvement. I take yoga on in the name of my Christian faith.
It is through yoga, I’ve strengthened my faith and connection to Jesus. As a Christian, I enjoy my time on my mat to focus on my physical body, the body God has given me to be his hands and feet, the body I use to connect with God and others. Yoga provides me a way to worship God with my physical strength in addition to my mind and heart. The methods of yoga support my relationship with my creator. To take care of the very body that God has given me.
The good news is yoga is becoming more and more available. The bad news is there is a lot of misinformation out there. Instead of focusing on all the reasons you maybe shouldn’t do yoga, try to focus on all the reasons why you should do yoga. It is your body, it will be your practice and you practice it in a way that serves you.