Myths and misconceptions about yoga
Updated: May 21, 2021
Beautiful things happen when we move out of our comfort zones. Next, we discuss misconceptions that have nothing to do with your ability to try the potentially life-changing practice of yoga because, as you will see, it's for everyone.
Text: Julia Graesser
I often hear comments like, "No, yoga is for women… I am not flexible enough... I am too old... or I do not have time.." Those are the most common question I have received over the years.
Yoga is only for women.
Did you know that back in the day, almost only men practised yoga? Only in the 1960s, women started to 'take over' this century-old practice.
One of the first scriptures on yoga divides it into eight limbs, of which actually only one discusses posture. The first postures were seated postures - asana. A good seat was necessary to do the mental work, which was the core of yoga for many centuries. During the British occupation in India, a more physical yoga came to light and was practised as a strengthening technique for young Indian men fighting the British. This is seen as the birth of body strengthening in yoga.
Around 1940, Indra Devi became one of the first female teachers as a student of Krishnamacharya. She brought yoga to the USA during the 1960s, and, from there, more and more women joined, and yoga began to boom in the West.
I am too old, not flexible or skinny enough.
We are affected by certain beliefs or stories around fitness requirements. That fit neighbour who comes home with their yoga mat under their arm or that flexible person on Instagram showing a complicated physical pose.
But what if I told you that one of the biggest challenges in yoga is not those complicated poses; it's more about limitations you impose upon yourself?
Yoga is a way to learn how to control your mind, as it's not only your body that will gain flexibility but especially your mind.
Yoga is not about right or wrong. It is about 'is'. We take what we've got and work with that. Yoga is a truly inclusive practice. The challenge is to accept yourself. And admittedly, if we have neglected our mental and physical bodies for some years, we might feel a bit stiff, to begin with, or have a hard time sitting still or taking that slow deep breath. Consistency and a nourishing environment with the right teacher will make this transition into yoga much easier. One of my students, Emily, told me the other day: "Once I was told by an instructor that my stomach was too big to do a certain pose! With you as my teacher, I was never made to feel like my body stopped me doing a pose - but instead, you worked with people of all shapes and abilities to find the most comfortable position for us to achieve that pose!"
I don't have time.
We don't have time. We have priorities. Saying you don't have time should be the first warning sign of living a stressful life. In yoga, we say we need to take care of ourselves first to take care of others. Make yourself a priority. Your body and mind will thank you. Yoga can improve not only your physical well-being but also energy, focus and creativity. The benefits of yoga go far beyond the yoga mat.
How to get started?
A great way to get started is by finding a beginner course where you learn the basics of yoga, how the individual parts are broken up and how to practice it safely. Another great way to get started is to get a private teacher for a couple of classes. They will help you to move at your own pace and assess your capabilities. A well-educated teacher will also provide you with options for your body to apply to common poses you will find in classes to feel more comfortable if you join the classes.
For more information on yoga, you can contact Warrior Princess Yoga and join their beginner courses.