Wednesday, December 5, 2012
9 Yoga Myths
Myth #1-I'm too stiff to do yoga!
I hear this all the time, and there's no such thing. When I was a kid, I couldn't touch my toes. But with lots of patience & practice, my muscles have opened up a lot. Even so, there are some ways that my body is just not that flexible. And that's ok. We practice to become more flexible, not because we're already flexible!
Myth #2-I'm too old to do yoga.
Absolutely not. Not long ago, there was an article in the Johnson City Press about a lady who's still teaching yoga classes at age 91! She credits her longevity to yoga. Even if you can't do all the poses you once could, anyone can benefit from the breathing, relaxation & meditation techniques you learn from yoga.
Myth #3-It will contradict my religion.
It's true that yoga came from the Hindu religion, and is practiced by many Hindus, Buddhists and others as part of their spiritual life. But it doesn't have to be religious. Yoga, in itself, is not a religion, but simply a practice. It's a way of life that can complement any religious beliefs. It helps you know yourself better, and to find a quiet place in your mind, in order to open to God. I'm a Christian, and I find that the basic tenents of yoga (the Yoga Sutras) follow along closely with many of the teachings of Jesus.
Myth #4-I already exercise. I don't need yoga.
Yoga offers many benefits that you just can't find anywhere else. It's a total mind-body workout, with breathing techniques that benefit even the most skilled athlete. We have several people at the studio who are involved in sports and fitness elsewhere, but yoga provides balance, lengthening of tight muscles, better breathwork, and even mental focus that can only enhance their other workouts.
Myth #5-Yoga is just for women.
Yoga started out only for men! Women were not even allowed to practice the asanas (poses). Here in the West, the stereotype is of a skinny woman, in tight clothing, moving in a suggestive way. That's simply not the soul of yoga. My husband was a US Marine, and he enjoys practicing yoga. It has a balance of yin & yang energies, with plenty of masculine movements. If you're a guy, give yoga a shot. You just might find something you love!
Myth #6-I'm too fat/out of shape to do yoga.
Yoga is for every body. A good instructor will tell you to honor your body and just do what you can. We can all receive the same benefits, and there are lots of modifications that your instructor can show you to make things easier. Also, the other people in class really aren't looking at you. They are busy thinking about their breath and the positioning of their own bodies as they practice. Also, all ages, fitness levels, and body shapes practice at yoga studios, so give it a shot.
Myth #7-Yoga is the same as stretching.
There's a lot of stretching in yoga. But yoga is so much more. It's a complete system that involves strength, breathing, balance, meditation, focus & concentration, and even cardiovascular benefits. As your practice progresses, you'll find more and more ways that yoga is complex and interesting.
Myth #8-Yoga people are too serious.
If the people in your class are too serious for you, it's time to find another class. It's been said that in the West, we take yoga too seriously. It should be enjoyable, and fun. It's ok to smile, and even giggle a little in your practice. Find a teacher, class, or even video that suits your personality and style. And then let go a little, and have fun!
Myth #9- Yoga is just too quiet & relaxing.
Yes, many yoga classes and practices are quiet and relaxing, but some are really strong and challenging. For example, Ashtanga Yoga is not relaxing to me at all. It's really tough! Investigate the styles of yoga and find one that works for you. At Mountain Yoga, we mostly practice Flow Yoga, but we have everything from the very relaxing Restorative class up to the Power classes, where we practice really challenging poses.