Debunking Some Common Yoga Misconceptions
By: Kristen Banocy
Ever since I decided to become a yoga instructor, people have been sharing with me their feelings on yoga. Some love it. Some have tried it once or twice and decided it is not for them. The ones that really get me though, are the ones who, never having rolled out a mat, seem to have a list of reasons keeping them from yoga. Here are a few reasons I have heard, and my responses:
- “I want a workout, not just a bunch of stretching.”
Yoga is about so much more than stretching and flexibility! Yes, there is a lot of stretching involved and you will gain flexibility and range of motion. You will also work on balancing, which builds strength in the core, legs, feet, or arms in the case of arm balances. You will be working with your own body weight to gain strength in many poses such as plank (yes the same plank you have done in your Large Group classes) and chaturanga dandasana (similar to a push-up).
- “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.”
These fearfuls can rest assured that they will not walk into their first yoga class and be expected to touch their noses to their knees. Many people see yoga pros on television or covers of magazines and think those are the people who make up the average yoga class. While I don’t suggest making your first ever yoga class advanced level power yoga, a beginners, gentle or all-levels class will provide progressions to various exercises and will often offer props to help align the body and ease it into the poses.
- “I would love to try yoga but I’m just so busy and stressed out as it is. I cannot possibly add one more thing to my schedule!”
I totally understand this one. Really. As someone who is currently employed at 5 different places, I often find it difficult to make time for my own yoga practice. But TRUST ME. I am always grateful I did. In addition to the satisfaction and endorphin rush I get from other workouts, yoga leaves me with a calm, grounded energy. I find that this energy stays with me throughout the day making me less frantic and MORE productive.
- “Isn’t yoga religious?”
No. Yoga is not a religion. Yoga does have a spiritual aspect and philosophy but there is no creed. The key point to this philosophy, in my opinion, is that there is a cosmic energy that flows throughout universe and all things in it. Including us. Yoga teaches us to quiet the mind and tap into an energy that is in and around us. How much this spiritual aspect of yoga is emphasized varies greatly by class style and instructor. You may go to one class and feel that there was way too much philosophy talk and not enough movement. You may go to another class and never hear it mentioned.
Maybe I’m a little partial. (I JUST LOVE YOGA AND WANT EVERYONE ELSE TO LOVE IT TOO!) Partiality aside though, I think everyone should try yoga and maybe more than once. There are a lot of styles and a lot of instructors. It is about finding what works for you and your body.