Common Misconceptions About Yoga

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I've been practicing yoga for about six years, and I've found that it has certain connotations that aren't necessarily true. I've had a handful of conversations with friends where they say, "I really want to do yoga, but..." followed by a statement that's either incorrect or not important anyway.

Yoga is great for a lot of reasons. Most simply, it's a block of time that you are setting aside to focus on yourself, inside and out, stretching out your muscles and getting a little peace of mind. Still, some people just aren't into it, so I'm not here to persuade you to do yoga if you don't want to. Instead, I'm talking to those of you who want to get into it but haven't because...

... you aren't flexible.
This is what I hear the most, which is funny because a big focus in yoga is increasing flexibility. Not practicing yoga because you aren't that flexible is like refusing to play a sport because you aren't already an expert at it. Don't worry about it.

... you'll be embarrassed being the rookie.
It may feel like everyone in the class is watching you, but chances are, they aren't. Everyone there is focusing on themselves. That's what yoga is all about – your body and your progress. Don't feel self-conscious about it. It's called "practicing yoga" for a reason. No matter how long you've been doing it, it's an ongoing process and you're always progressing.

... it's just stretching.
Not really. In fact, a majority of yoga focuses on building up strength. Holding various poses requires effort, energy, muscle. It's not as easy as it looks. There are also so many different types of yoga. Some focus on stretching and loosening your muscles, others are more fast-paced where you really work up a sweat.

... you tried a class once and didn't like it.
Try a different class. Maybe that type of yoga isn't for you. Or maybe you didn't click with the instructor. When it comes to yoga classes, I'm a big believer that finding the right instructor is key. Everyone has their own approach to it, so finding a teacher you like makes all the difference.

... it's for women.
Um, no. I don't know why this stereotype exists. Men are perfectly capable of practicing, and enjoying, yoga. In fact, since men tend to be less flexible than women, yoga might even be more beneficial for them.

... you don't have time.
While the most common way to do yoga is through an hour-long class, it's not the only way. There are shorter classes. Or, fortunately, it's something you can do at home too. How much time do you have? There's probably a yoga video on YouTube at that length (try Yoga With Adriene). Do a 15-20 minute session on your own before bed if it suits you.

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