If there's one thing I've learned about yoga, it's that there are no absolutes in this practice. What works for one person might not work for someone else. What works for you today, might not work tomorrow. It's an incredibly versatile practice that can be modified to suit almost any need or taste. So its frustrating when I hear people make generalizations or put labels on the practice of yoga. Here are just a few of the most common misconceptions I've heard-and why I don't subscribe to them!
1. I'm not ______________ enough. You can fill in the blank..
I've heard it all. "I'm not flexible enough. I'm not thin enough. I'm not young enough."
Yoga accepts you wherever you are. There are no prerequisites, no rules, no expectations, and no judgments. A byproduct of yoga may be better physical, mental health and well-being, but I assure you that it is not required to start. The best thing about yoga is that you can come as you are and let the practice tend to you in the most generous way. Anyone and everyone can benefit from the practice of yoga as long as they are patient and approach the practice with an open mind. And who doesn't want an open mind? Yoga can help cultivate that as well.
2. Yoga is easy, its just gentle stretching, designed for relaxing.
There's a great deal of value in gentle relaxing styles of yoga, but there are many styles and schools of yoga that are incredibly physically challenging & require a disciplined effort.. Some styles cultivate strength, stamina, and flexibility. That's why we have so many styles on the schedule. There's a class out there that will meet your needs, whether you're a skier, snowboarder, triathlete, teenager or a grandma, like me!
3. The purpose of yoga is physical fitness.
A lot of people put yoga in the same category as going to the gym because of its physical benefits. But one of the reasons that asana practice (the postures) is so great for you is that it mixes awareness and concentration with movement. In other words, yoga is a moving meditation! That's SO different from other fitness classes!
4. I'm injured, I can't do yoga.
Its quite the opposite. Many students come to yoga while they're recuperating from an injury and displaced from their regular form of exercise. Those who first try yoga as a means of rehab, typically stick with it because it not only helps them heal but can also help prevent future injury.
5. I'm too busy to do yoga.
Its the same analogy as I'm not flexible enough so I wont do anything. If time is an issue, look at the efficiency of ticking off all of these boxes in one go: fitness, flexibility, stress relief, skillful focus and mindfulness all in the one session. Try just 1 hour a week and observe the return on that investment. I promise you, you will be pleasantly surprised.
6. I will have to give up meat, alcohol & all my material possessions.
Yoga does not tell you what to do. But it does make you more mindful about how you live in the world. You will find you will make more informed & balanced choices about your diet & lifestyle. You do not have to renunciate that good glass of wine. And when it comes to possessions, have you noticed how many pairs of leggings yogis have! But because of our yoga practice, we're okay with that.
7. Yoga is a religion.
Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is a science. Yes, some people become religious about participating in the practice, but there is no dogma or required belief system. To the contrary yoga will develop an inquiring, creative mind, develop a philosophy to ask the important questions, gaining insight, and making your own informed choices.
Many say you are only as old as your thoughts & the movement in your spine - and yoga positively affects these, so get yourself into a class this month.
Know someone that needs to read this? Do them a favor & forward it to them.