Yoga Myth 1: You Have To Be Flexible
The more an individual practices yoga, the more agile he/she becomes. It is a common experience for first timers to have hesitation; frequently by the end of their first class a sense of calm and accomplishment is noted by many beginners. Individuals with extreme flexibility need to bring awareness as much as those without in order to avoid injury.
If you’re new to yoga it would benefit you to stick with level one and if you have any health issues look for an adaptive class and be sure to let your teacher know. Yoga is an individual practice, not a sport. Take advantage of the opportunity to be curious and get to know your body and all your moving parts with a deeper awareness.
Yoga Myth 2: Yoga is a Religion
Some individuals never try yoga for fear it will be a religious affiliation and conflict with their personal beliefs. It is true that yoga is linked to Hinduism and Buddhism, this is because yoga is an integral part of those religions. Yoga in and of itself, however, is not a religion.
Yogic meditation is a time to quiet the mind and connect with the breath. Individuals can meditate in a wide array of settings from individual homes to outside in nature, in a church to a yoga studio. To some, meditation can seem like a daunting task while others find serenity with ease through their meditation practice. This all takes time, time to feel comfortable with the silence of your body and mind before or after such a fast paced day.
There are some who are only attracted to or completely turned off by the physical aspect of yoga and may not truly understand what the meaning is behind the asanas. There are others who are drawn to or totally avoid the idea of its spiritual connection, confusing it with a religious one. Plainly stated however, Yoga is a combination of the physical asanas and mind/spirit meditation and it would not be doing your practice of Yoga justice to limit yourself to one or the other. Yoga promotes the mind, body, spirit union and through its practices of asanas and meditation, helps those who are dedicated to the practice find clarity, peace, and compassion.
Yoga Myth 3: You need to be Young & Healthy
Different classes are geared for different levels so read the descriptions. Each genre of yoga can be modified or amplified to suite an individual. Ask questions of the teacher and be sure to tell the teacher of challenge points for your body. Some classes are even geared to different age groups so check the class descriptions. One of the greatest yoga teachers, BKS Iyengar, is in his nineties and practices every day.
Yoga Myth 4: Yoga is Only for Certain Kinds of People
Truly, there is no one ‘yoga type.’ A student of yoga can be a vegetarian or a meat-eaters, a woman or a man, a senior or a teenager, a rock star or a football player, a hippie or a business person. There are no boundaries to a yoga mat.