The following is a compilation of some of the most common misconceptions about yoga I come across, and my responses to them.
“I can’t even touch my toes, how am I supposed to do yoga?”
This is a very popular fear and misconception that keeps people from trying yoga for the first time. While flexibility is important to perform certain poses, no teacher expects a new student to be super limber. Flexibility comes with time and practice; it is not a requirement to walk in the door.
“Yoga is too hard.”
Some styles of yoga are very challenging, however other styles such as Hatha, Yin and Restorative Yoga are gentle, and offer a great starting point to build up strength and stamina for harder classes.
“Just sitting there and breathing is not my thing, I need something more active.”
If you want a hard workout that challenges every single muscle group and more, seek an Ashtanga, Power Vinyasa or Bikram Yoga class. These classes are not for the timid and do require a moderate to high level of fitness to attend.
“Chanting makes me uncomfortable. It sounds weird.”
Some classes will begin with an invocation or chant as a tribute to the style of yoga. They may last only a few seconds and have pleasant translations such as “peace for all” or “I bow to my inner teacher.” Knowing what the chant means can clear away any negativity about it, plus it is optional to participate.
“I don’t like to sweat.”
Not all yoga is practiced in a heated room, however sometimes a little bit of heat is a welcomed component, as it can aid in flexibility. Sweating is also a mechanism that helps to detoxify the body, giving you an attractive glow.
“My body doesn’t look svelte and lithe like the people in the yoga ads.”
A regular yoga practice will assist in weight loss and increased muscle tone, but this isn’t always the goal. There are classes for all kinds of needs, ages, shapes and sizes. Such classes include Yoga for Plus Sizes, Yoga for Seniors, Yoga for Inflexible Men and even Yoga for Babies.
“I do my cardio workout, go lift weights and then I stretch. I don’t have time for yoga.”
Yoga gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Not only do you improve your aerobic capacity and build muscle strength, you will also gain flexibility in the same amount of time.
“I am not a vegetarian and I like to drink beer. Yoga is just not my style.”
Yoga practitioners are not flawless puritans. Most people do yoga to get in better shape, gain flexibility and learn how to relax. As a result of yoga, not as a requirement, we make lifestyle choices that serve rather than defeat us.
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