Today’s post is by Anna Jewell, a yogi living in the Triangle, NC. Enjoy!
Have you driven by a yoga studio on your way to work and wondered what this yoga thing is all about? More and more people are experiencing the benefits of yoga, from college athletes to your elderly neighbor.
With the growing popularity of yoga in the west and with classes springing up at every turn, there are some common myths that need to be dispelled. Hopefully, by understanding some of the most common misconceptions, you can feel a greater sense of ease when you take that first step into the studio.
I am not flexible enough for yoga.
Saying that you are not flexible enough for yoga is a bit like saying that you’re too hungry to eat.
While some people have a natural predisposition to flexibility, most people start out feeling more like the tin man than a cirque du solei performer. Nobody walks into their first yoga class loving pigeon pose.
Yoga, unlike many activities in modern society, is not a competition. It is all about allowing yourself to feel good in your body. Give yourself the time and the permission to learn the poses and modify them when you need to.
Yoga is a religion.
Yoga translates to “yolk” or “oneness” and aims to connect your body, mind and spirit. While yoga will make you more aware of yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually, it is not it’s own religion.
There are links to buddhism in yoga, that does not mean you will be hearing strictly buddhist teachings in your yoga class. Even if you run into things that you disagree with, there is always a way to mold the teachings you hear into something that aligns with your beliefs.
The wonderful thing about yoga is that it meets you where you are. If you are looking to lose weight and get in shape, there are plenty of classes that cater to the physicality of the practice. If you are looking to start a meditation practice and learn more about yoga philosophy, there will be classes that will help guide students on that path as well. The key to enjoying your yoga practice is finding the style that feels most appropriate to you.
I tried chaturanga once and could not do it.
Have you ever found yourself in twisted and sweaty pile, not knowing your foot from your shoulder while everyone else was gracefully balanced in handstand? While yoga is for everybody, not every class is appropriate for everyone.
There are so many styles and teachers and levels of yoga that you are bound to find one that works for you. Keep trying different styles and teachers and classes and find the one that resonates with you. It is common to walk into a class and feel intimidated. If you tried one class and felt overwhelmed by the poses, know that yoga takes consistent practice and that the more classes you do, the more familiar the poses will become.
If you are new to the practice, find a studio that offers an intro class, workshop or series. Find a studio and teacher you feel comfortable with and know that if you do not click with them, there are unlimited other options out there.
I need at least an hour to reap the benefits.
While an hour or more of practice is ideal, you can reap the benefits even from just five to ten minutes on your mat, or in your office chair, for that matter.
If you cannot get in to a class, take a few minutes to run through some of your favorite poses or even just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out through your nose. There are many different ways to fit yoga into your life, even with the busiest of schedules.
Yoga will heal your injuries.
Many people walk into a yoga class on the recommendation of their doctor. While it is so wonderful to see doctors recognizing the benefits of yoga, you have to be careful which class you are walking into. For example, if you are rehabilitating a shoulder injury, stepping in to a vinyasa class where you will be on your hands for a large portion of class can do more harm than good.
While we tend to think of yoga as a cure all, if done incorrectly, yoga can exacerbate and even cause injuries. If you are looking for a class to help with a specific injury, do your research. Read articles, find reviews, talk to the instructors and let them know what you have going on. Find someone with a strong understanding of the body and if you do not feel comfortable with any particular teacher, never feel pressured to attend their class.
No matter what injuries you are working with, you will be able to find a class be it an athletic vinyasa class or a relaxing restorative class.
Yoga is just stretching.
With so many different styles and levels of yoga, you are bound to find one that you love. Some people come to a yoga practice looking to be challenged in an athletic flow. Some people come to a yoga practice looking for a healing and meditative class. Some people want a little of both or just want to experiment because they heard yoga might help them feel better. While a few types of yoga are primarily stretching, many other styles will absolutely challenge your comfort zone.
Identify what it is that you are looking to get from a yoga class and then do some research on the different styles. Whether you are an athlete, couch potato or weekend warrior, there are plenty of classes that will help you find ease, strength and functionality within your life.
I cannot afford a $15 drop in rate.
It is no surprise that yoga can be a little pricey. For many, finding a teacher and class they love is well worth the cost but for many others, it is just is not an option.
Thankfully, with yoga growing in popularity, it is becoming more widely available. Many yoga stores and organizations will offer free community classes on a weekly or months basis.
There are many websites that allow you to stream full length classes for less than twenty dollars a month.
Many times, studios will even offer discounts for students, teachers, military and certain local corporations. There are unlimited books and DVDs available as well but if you are new to the practice, it is helpful to attend at least a few classes so you can have a teacher help you with your alignment.
Now, are you going to try yoga?