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Yoga Misconceptions

If you are looking to create more space in your body and mind, lose weight and inches, and build strength and flexibility then yoga might be something worth looking into. It is a low impact workout that has many benefits.

Yoga, in Sanskrit, mean “to unite or to join”. Bringing together your body, mind and spirit is the whole purpose of the yoga practice. There are a variety of different styles of yoga a person can practice. One of the most well-known yoga teachers, T. K. V. Desikachar, said “It is not that the person needs to accommodate him or herself to yoga, but rather the yoga practice must be tailored to fit each person.”

People find their way to yoga for different reasons. While one individual has come to the practice for rehabilitation from an injury, another person might be finding themselves on a spiritual journey and another might be looking to tone their physical body a little more.

Many people hear “yoga” and are immediately turned off because of the perceivable characteristics like people chanting “OM” and the symbol of Buddha. Yes, some do participate in these parts of their yoga practice, but it doesn’t mean their yoga practice must be your practice!

The benefits of yoga are well known, so why are many people intimidated or turned off when they hear the word yoga?

  • “I don’t bend that way!”
  • “…I’m a guy.”
  • “I’m not a Buddhist…”

Yoga is for everybody and every BODY.

Here are the top 4 misconceptions of yoga.

1.            Yoga is only for women

Oh, how very wrong this is. Everyone can reap the benefits of practicing yoga. Somehow yoga has obtained the image that it is too feminine for men. Yes, a majority of yogis are probably woman but actually many of the founders of the yoga practice were, take a guess…men! Yoga will help to lengthen and strengthen your muscles. Men tend to stick to weight lifting machines which will only focus on strengthening one muscular area and doesn’t help to benefit mobility. Yoga will do both and actually works multiple muscles at one time. Men tend to favor workouts that are more vigorous and fast paced. In that case Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga would be a better suit for them.

Being a yogi myself, I will testify that I have always been pleasantly surprised and impressed when I see a man stroll into yoga class. It can sometimes take a lot of courage…a good quality in a man. Go against the stigma!

2.            You have to be flexible to practice yoga

No, no and no. I could not even come close to touching my toes the very first time I attempted yoga. Absolutely not. To be honest, sometimes having that naturally ultra-flexibility when you are first starting the practice can be a disadvantage because you could bend too far into a stretch and injure yourself. Your breath and patience in the poses will naturally bring you the flexibility you desire and bring more awareness into what your body is able to do. This will help bring a mindfulness to your practice. Patience is key, do not rush the journey.

3.            Yoga is religious based

This is a very common misconception. Yoga is more of a philosophy than a religion. Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit. It can be quite spiritual but that must not be confused with religious. Although there are many religions that do recommend the practice of yoga; but yoga does not necessarily recommend the practice of religion. Yoga is what YOU make it. Different studios will incorporate their own philosophy to their classes, so the key is finding the instructor and the studio that works best for you. You will never come across a class that will try to convert you to a religion.

4.            You have to know all the yoga lingo

Not true at all! We are all a beginner at everything in at least one point in our lives. It might take a little bit of humbling and a thirst for knowledge to begin, but there is an instructor there to guide you through the poses and demonstrate them. They always give multiple poses for both beginners and advanced students and it is never frowned upon to take a rest during practice.  Have fun and be a student again. Never stop learning!

So, before you swear off ever giving yoga a try consider this: Yoga is not what the media shows it to be. It is not some beautiful blonde doing a headstand and touching her toes to her head. Yoga is opening your muscles, opening your mind and opening your spirit. Yoga is self-awareness. Yoga is getting in shape again. Yoga is for anybody, even the disabled. There are always modifications. Most importantly, yoga is what you need it to be.

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