Yoga is a very general term and a very diverse, beautifully complicated concept. There is so much to yoga so a lot gets lost in translation. Today I’m sharing just some of the common misconceptions I hear around yoga and the practice.
You have to be flexible to do yoga.
I hear this ALL the time. “I can’t do yoga I can’t even touch my toes” …Um…have you tried bending your knees? Saying you can’t do yoga because you don’t have certain flexibility is like saying you can’t go to kindergarten because you can’t read. Every yogi on their mat is practicing – but there is no performance or game. There are no physical requirements to show up to the mat and allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to a new experience.
Yoga is just for girls.
Fortunately, this myth is busting itself with time but there is definitely a misconception in the west that yoga is for women. But yoga actually started as a tradition only for men. Yep, 5000+ years ago, yoga was for wealthy men – and women were not allowed to practice. Thank God this has changed and now yoga is for everyone, regardless of sex. This “girly” mindset probably came from all the feminine and sexy yoginis on social media platforms debuting their deep splits, extreme backbends, loose hips & shoulders – flexibility that is often more difficult to find in a male body. While this feminine fluidity and bendiness is beautiful and important, we sometimes forget about the more masculine attributes of a yoga practice. A fiery strong core, stability in the shoulders, controlled and strict movements, etc. My point is that yoga balances the masculine and feminine in all of us and definitely does not require we be a certain biological sex.
Yoga is religious.
This can sometimes be a tough topic and unfortunately, I think organized religion causes many to shy away from yoga or just focus on the physical aspects of their practice. The truth is, yoga is not aligned with any single organized religion but rather works in and around any belief in a greater being. I’m from the Bible Belt and grew up going to Christian schools and a Christian church every week. So, I know and understand the fear here – is yoga worshipping another god? The other side of this fear is do I have to be religious to practice yoga? No to both. Yoga is spiritual, bringing you closer to your true nature. In my personal experience, yoga has brought me closer to God only because I believe God is a large part of my true self. At the end of the day, the teachings of yoga align with the general teachings of all religions, uniting them and showing the truth: the universe being in supreme control.
You have to have nice yoga clothes to practice yoga.
Ugh. This is an unfortunately common misconception around yoga. It’s not about the clothes people! It’s not about the logo on your leggings or the strappy-ness of your sports bra. I am guilty of getting wrapped up in this – feeling like I need more and more yoga outfits to prove myself as a proper yogi. And the commercialism around yoga in the west certainly doesn’t help. But come back to this – yoga requires no clothes (but your gym might), only a body, a mind, and some oxygen.
You have to join an expensive studio.
This is another struggle especially for younger yogis likes myself. You can use this lack of resources as an opportunity to search for more within what you already have. Try out youtube yogis, read books, get on the mat and just move. There is endless FREE access to yoga in the world.
Yoga doesn’t require or build strength & muscles.
While the point of yoga is not necessarily to get physically stronger or build big showy muscles, anyone who actually practices yoga or has just been to a yoga class knows the strength of asana. As I mentioned previously, we often associated yoga with flexibility more than strength. It’s not lifting heavy weights but having control of your body and its movements calls for amazing strength. Come to one of my flow classes and you will see 😉
You have to be vegan or vegetarian to practice yoga.
Obviously, yoga does not come with dietary restrictions! However, yoga is concerned with feeling light and nourishing your body, which for some, might mean a cleaner, closer-to-Earth diet (less processed & heavy foods, more plants).