We’ve heard about every rumor, complaint, myth and lie about yoga. We wanted to take a moment to clear up some of the most common myths we hear.
Whether you need to read this to help yourself, or share with others to clear up misconceptions, we hope this list of myths and truths will help more people understand the open, welcoming, challenging and engaging practice of yoga.
Myth 1: Yoga is only for people who are already in shape.
Yoga is for all bodies: short or tall, lean or overweight, flexible or stiff, open or reserved, young or old. Yoga meets you where you are. Whether you’re at your first class, returning after a break, or experienced in yoga, you can work at the level that’s right for you. Your instructor will help find positions that work for your body and your individual capabilities. You will be in a room free of judgment to work at your own pace. There is no competition or comparison in our yoga Studio.
Myth 2: Yoga is for mental health; it’s not really exercise.
While yoga is a wonderful practice to calm the mind, help with focus, and renew your mental energy, it is also a challenging physical exercise. Yoga may burn fewer calories than other more strenuous forms of exercise, but it can help create lean muscle which improves your metabolism. Yoga can help you form a stronger core, develop muscle strength and improve stamina. It’s a wonderful work out on its own or combined with other exercise practices.
Myth 3: Yoga is not for Christians or any other religion.
Yoga, as practiced in most classes in the U.S., is not a religion nor a religious practice. Yoga actually pulls from several religions, including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, as well as New Age philosophies that combine many of the traditions from these religions. Someone from any religious or spiritual practice can pull from parts of these religions without converting or feeling like they’re betraying their own beliefs. The ideals of enlightenment, inner peace and personal renewal, can work well alongside anyone’s personal religious beliefs.
Myth 4: Yoga requires special, trendy clothes.
Recently, “yoga pants” has become a blanket term describing tight-fighting stretchy pants, usually worn by women. But yoga has never been defined by a certain look. In fact, how you look has nothing to do with yoga. In yoga class, please come as you are! Yoga clothing should be comfortable and allow you to move easily, but it doesn’t need to be expensive or look a certain way. In some yoga practices you might see individuals wearing one color. In kundalini yoga, often times the yoga instructor and some of the students may be wearing predominantly white clothing. However, you’ll see plenty of looks and styles in any yoga class.
Myth 5: Yoga is hard.
Yoga class is entirely what you make of it. Speak to instructors and staff ahead of your first class to make sure you find a class that will be the right fit for you. There’s no competition in yoga, no demands to copy anyone else or keep up. Move at the pace that works for you. It should be challenging but not overly strenuous. If you’re pushing your body too hard, ease up and be more gentle. Remember, this is your practice!
Myth 6: Yoga forces you to do awkward positions with your body.
Like Myth 5, this misconception is passed around by people who are scared that a class will require them to tangle up in painful knots. That is not what yoga is about. Positions are presented step-by-step for you to ease your body into them. Some days, you may be able to do the exercise fully; other days, you may have to adjust to do less. Your instructor should give several options for getting into and holding a position that will allow you to find what works for you, whether you have a weak back, sore joints, issues with balance, limited flexibility or any other concerns. Keep in mind that you can always arrive early to speak with your instructor about any physical concerns or limitations you may have.
Myth 7: Yoga class makes you sleepy.
All yoga classes are different and have different goals. Some classes, such as Gentle Restorative and Yin, are geared towards relaxation. Other classes, like Warm Power Flow, are focused on awakening your energy and leaving you feeling engaged and ready to seize the day. While meditation is a part of many classes, it’s not in all of them. You can find a yoga class that matches what you need to work on in your life, whether that’s calming your mind or renewing your energy.
Myth 8: Yoga is a lifestyle; I can’t just take a class now and then.
You do not have to commit to a life as a yogi in order to enjoy the benefits of yoga. While some people do choose to take yoga classes several times a week, plenty of other people take yoga when they can. Some people even practice at home for convenience. Yoga can be integrated into a physical therapy practice, paired with another form of exercise, or perhaps just taken on vacation. You can drop into a class anytime and still reap the benefits of that hour of mind and body integration.