6 Common Myths About Yoga

Despite growing in popularity, yoga is also gaining momentum in perceptions which are simply not true regarding its practice. One of the most common things yoga teachers hear from potential students is ‘I’ve always wanted to try it’. When followed with ‘why haven’t you? the answers are usually based around misconstrued beliefs about what yoga actually is. So, fret not here are 6 major myths surrounding the yoga world that may change your mind about trying out a yoga class.

Like most things in life, it’s probably not what you think it is!

Myth Number 1: You have to be as bendy as rubber to do yoga

You don’t. We all have to start somewhere and the most flexible yogis in the world weren’t born that way, they have practised with upmost commitment over many, many years to become that way. You should never think you can’t practice yoga because you aren’t flexible enough! It simply isn’t the whole point of yoga. Whilst increased flexibility is a great benefit and side effect of yoga it is not the sole purpose of the practice.

Flexibility is simply one benefit out of an endless list of benefits for the body, mind and spirit. The physical part of yoga (asana practice, i.e. the physical postures you do within a class) is actually just one eighth of what actually makes up the lifestyle of a yogi. Being able to bend into a shape that resembles a pretzel is not a pre-requisite of yoga, having a body that breathes is the only requirement.

Don’t be intimidated, because it simply isn’t a necessity. We all must start somewhere and alignment and posture are far more important than whether you can get your leg over your head. The absolute vast majority of people aren’t like the contortionists we now see on social media, your ability will be much closer to the norm.

Myth Number 2: Yoga isn’t for men

Yoga is a discipline that was created by men and originally actually only for men. The infamous history of Indra Devi tells of how she had to persistently and repeatedly ask Krishnamacharya (one of yoga’s most historically, influential gurus) to teach her yoga as he repeatedly refused to teach her simply because she was a woman. Ah how times have changed! Her persistence paid off of course and now in the 20th Century the ratio of male to female class students leans largely on the girls side.

Yoga is now misconceived as being only for women. Yoga is not a sex specific practice and fortunately is once again becoming more popular amongst men as all should enjoy the benefits of a yogic lifestyle. As the benefits of yoga and meditation are becoming more widely accepted and acknowledged within the west, as well as many sports teams and athletes attributing their increased performance to the implementation of yoga as part of their fitness regime, the rise of the yogic man is coming. And quite rightly so.

Myth Number 3: Yoga is religious

Yoga is a spiritual practice in which contentment, gratitude, kindness and compassion towards the self and others are taught. It is centred around the union of the body, mind, spirit and breath and that each of us as an in individual consciousness are a part of something bigger and greater. Yoga is full of spiritual teachings, but there is absolutely no religion involved in Yoga. Yoga does not discriminate nor involve predjudice or judgement, Yoga is for people of all religions. Yoga is for everyone.

Myth Number 4: Yoga is only for hipsters, vegans and young people who drink green smoothies.

Hipsters, vegans and young people who drink smoothies are of course welcomed with open arms and love just as much as everyone else, but therein lies the point. To reiterate debunked myth number 3, yoga is for everyone; every age, gender, personality and no matter what hobbies and traits you are into. Yoga is also not about ‘fitting in’, it is about coming together as individuals and embracing all of our wonderful differences whilst we work on ourselves besides one another. So whether you’re an avid vegan or Britain’s biggest burger eater, you can go to yoga.

Myth Number 5: You have to have an expensive mat, expensive yoga specific clothes and spread rose petals around your expensive equipment when you start the class.

Yoga can be done anywhere and at any time. It is a practice which is thousands of years old. They certainly didn’t have expensive leggings and a £150 mat then to complete an asana and meditation practice successfully and you certainly don’t require them now. Any loose, comfortable clothing is more than sufficient and most studios will provide you with a mat.

Expensive clothing and accessories now associated with yoga practice are just another part of materialistic consumerism, it is not a necessary part of taking part and becoming a yogi. Remember yoga encourages you to look internally and away from external factors.

Yoga should be practised in and with whatever feels comfortable to you. Yoga can change your life, a pair of leggings won’t.

Myth Number 6: Yoga is too difficult

Can you stand tall on your own two feet? Can you lie down with your palms facing upwards? Then you can do yoga. Of course some postures are incredibly difficult and require a great deal of strength and flexibility but the beauty of yoga is that postures are capability specific, there is no competition in yoga.

There are practices, sequences and poses to suit all abilities. Adaptations to postures can also be made. The key to yoga practice is to listen to your body and find the line between force and effort, the principle can be applied to all postures and to all abilities.

The best thing about yoga is that you cannot be bad at it. There is never an assessment of performance, it is about using the body however subtly to turn your attention inwardly. Yoga is a journey that begins with wherever you are now.