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  • Chloe Jay

8 yoga myths debunked

As I preach “yoga is for everyone”, I’m too often met with the long string of reasons why people believe that yoga is, in fact, not for them.


Ten times out of ten I find myself debunking the myths they’ve shared with me. This article will do just that.


The common yoga myths we will debunk include:


  1. You have to be flexible to be good at yoga

  2. Yoga is for young and able people only

  3. Yoga is for women only

  4. You have to be strong to be good at yoga

  5. You have to be spiritual or religious to practise yoga

  6. Yoga is just stretching

  7. A yoga class is just an exercise class

  8. Others will judge you for not being ‘good’ at yoga

You have to be flexible to be good at yoga


Flexibility - or lack thereof - is one of the top objections people have when they come to me and tell me why they can’t “do yoga”.


Flexibility is too often associated with the physical aspect of yoga - otherwise known as Asana.


The splits, legs behind the head and other contortions spring to mind - and while you’re likely to gain some flexibility through regular practice - in reality, flexibility has nothing to do with yoga.


When I first started yoga, I couldn’t touch my toes. Now that I can, it feels more like a nice bonus rather than a ‘must-have for yoga’.


Yoga is for young and able people only


Nope. Yoga doesn’t discriminate.


Technically, to practise yoga, you don’t have to move your body at all. The Asana, or physical yoga practice comprises just ⅛ of what yoga is - according to Patanjali, creator of The Yoga Sutras and eight limbs of yoga.


So, for those who don’t aren’t comfortable with yoga classes, yoga can be practised in a number of other ways, including Yamas and Niyamas for example; how we should treat ourselves and the external world. To learn more about the Yamas and Niyamas, click here.


However, if Asana is something you want, then it can be practised and appreciated in a variety of accessible ways. Try Yin, a slower, more restorative form of yoga or Nidra - otherwise known as “sleep yoga” which includes guided meditation and sense withdrawal.


Yoga is for women only


I don’t mind repeating myself. Yoga doesn’t discriminate.


Don't believe the marketing material that says yoga is just for young, white, slim women. Men, women and non-binary people of all sizes, ethnicities, ages and abilities are welcome.


Sadly in the West in particular, yoga has somewhat been hijacked by the idea that it’s only available to a particular profile when in reality yoga is for everyone.


You have to be strong to be good at yoga


You don’t have to be physically strong to be ‘good’ at yoga.


However, the beauty of regular practice is that you will build strength over time. A byproduct of Asana practice if you will.


Most yoga classes will work on some form of strength, whether that’s core, hamstring or upper body. As we build muscle, we reduce the risk of injury and expand our capabilities.


But if you are new to yoga, being ‘strong’ is by no means a “must-have” for starting your journey, rather a benefit to look forward to.


You have to be spiritual or religious to practise yoga


Although there is a connection between yoga and religions such as Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism, you don’t have to be religious or spiritual to practise yoga. Nor does it matter if your religious or spiritual beliefs do not fall into the above.


Everyone is entitled to enjoy yoga in all of its forms. If that includes taking yourself to a weekly yoga class - great!


Yoga is just stretching


There is a colourful and vast variety of yoga practices out there.


Perhaps a slow and stretchy kind of class is what you need (in which case, try Yin yoga). But there are lots of vinyasa-based classes that focus on transitioning from one posture to another using the breath.


Ashtanga yoga, for example, is renowned for being energetic, heavily-structured and vigorous. Far more than just stretching, you can expect to break a sweat.


If you want something in the middle, give Hatha Vinyasa, or a Vinyasa Flow class a go. You’ll get the body moving and flow through a range of postures, targeting different areas without the intensity of Ashtanga.


A yoga class is just an exercise class


Yoga can be a form of exercise but fundamentally it’s much more than that.


Sure, it consists of holding postures which can sometimes prove challenging. It’ll most likely increase the heart rate too. But the importance of such movement in yoga is to build mental resilience and discipline.


Here’s what a standard yoga class might look like:


  • Grounding. This is where we check in with ourselves before we get moving. Pranayama or breathwork might be used to settle the nervous system and reset the emotional body.

  • Moving through an asana sequence will begin with gentle movements as we build up to move through complex postures and final poses. Breath is used to encourage focus in poses, helping to build discipline and deepening progress.

  • Savasana. This portion of the yoga class centres around relaxation. Allowing the body to reset while your teacher guides you.

  • Closing. An opportunity to internally check back in with yourself and express gratitude before the end of class - Namaste!


Yoga does not claim to be a workout, instead a grounding and often spiritual practice that unites body with mind and soul.


Others will judge you for not being ‘good’ at yoga


This was a huge reservation for me when I went to my first yoga class. I was so occupied with doing everything wrong that I wasn’t able to fully commit to being present, which is a shame.


Trust me, others aren’t judging you. They’re most likely concentrating on breathing or not falling out of a pose.


The essence of yoga is community. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “to yoke” or “to unite”, not just the mind to the body but also with others.


So, as daunting as it might seem, yoga classes are often full of like-minded, compassionate people who are probably focusing on controlling Warrior 3 wobbles.


Final thoughts


If you have reservations about starting yoga, whether it involves flexibility or perhaps how you will be perceived - don’t.


The reason you haven’t started yoga is not a reason, rather a myth. So if you want to immerse yourself into the wonderful and life-changing world that is yoga, do it - I promise you won’t regret it!


Love and light,


Chloe



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