You mention Yoga to some people and they physically grimace. I don’t believe it’s because they’re being rude or disrespectful, I believe it’s because they probably have a false idea in their head of what Yoga actually is and what it entails. There’s an awful lot of misconceptions around it and I’ve spoke about it enough on my blog in the past to actually see some of those misconceptions crop up in the comments section.
I’m not shaming anyone for believing something about Yoga which isn’t true (of course I’m not, that completely goes against what I believe Yoga to be) but today I’m here to clear some things up. I try and not cram things down people’s throats (ideas, knives, fire) but I personally do believe and have experienced first hand the benefits of Yoga on my physical and mental health.
Of course we’re all different, have different needs and abilities but there’s so much more to Yoga than chanting and saying namasté. I’m going to try and break down some of the main and obvious misconceptions of Yoga, which will then hopefully encourage someone who’s been putting it off for one of these reasons to finally give it a whirl!
You have to be flexible to do Yoga
Erm, no? You absolutely do not have to be flexible in order to practice Yoga. Just like you don’t have to be fast in order to go for a run. It’s a ridiculous misconception and I think a big one in why some people put it off. Flexibility is a nice by-product of practicing Yoga. But you absolutely, 100% do not need to already be flexible in order to practice and reap the benefits. All poses can be modified to suit your personal flexibility.
Before I started Yoga, I was so un-flexible. I used to do dancing when I was younger and I was always the least flexible person in the class by a LONG way. My body has always just been naturally quite stiff and uncooperative. But after 2 years of almost daily Yoga practice, you’d be astounded to see how much my flexibility has improved. I’m constantly amazed by it.
Well, I don’t think so. Some practices you could say are a bit boring. Some of the slower, gentle and more stretchier practices might be boring for someone looking for a hard-core workout or someone who’s used to doing active workouts every day. But the good thing about Yoga is if the boring practices aren’t for you, you don’t have to do them. Because there’s plenty of other high intensity practices you could be doing instead!
I personally enjoy a mix of practices. Some days, I really just wanna move my body and sweat it out. And other days, all I want to do are some gentle stretches, some breathing exercises and a long-ass shavasana. I benefit greatly from both of these and I think we could all benefit from just taking a little time to slow down, breath and meditate. But if it’s not for you, it’s not for you!
It’s too hard
Again, it doesn’t have to be. This is more or less the complete opposite of the above point, some Yoga practices are very hard. Some cater for weight loss, core stability or toning, some are a very intense 50 minute workout. But a lot aren’t. If certain practices are too hard, just don’t do them and choose a more suitable level of practice for you. And there’s no shame in leveling up or down, depending on how you feel.
In my Yoga With Adriene Practices for every mood post, I categorize my favourite Yoga With Adriene practices into sections, depending on what you’re looking for. I’d highly recommend trying out some of the low energy practices I recommend, if you’re after something slower and less intense. They’re all perfect for beginners too!
It’s only for spiritual people
Hell to the no. I can totally see why this is a common misconception and why people think this. But honestly, it’s just not true. It’s not a requirement for starting or practicing Yoga. A lot of spiritual people do practice because Yoga provides a lot of useful tools in expanding your spiritual practice too. But a lot of non-spiritual people practice it too. Like me.
Spirituality is something I’ve never really looked into but last year, I considered trying to learn more. I didn’t get very far and it took an entire Yoga retreat – which was very spiritual and intense – for me to realise that that life just isn’t for me. I do Yoga because it feels amazing. Because it’s a great form of exercise. Because it helps me relax and has positive benefits on my mental health. That’s it.
You have to go to classes
Again, nope. Yoga classes are a great way to get involved with Yoga, meet new people and join in your local community. Classes are extremely beneficial for some people. But they’re certainly not the only way you can practice Yoga, as at home workouts are always an option to. There are plenty of DVD’s to buy on Amazon (this is actually how I started, around 5 years ago) or head to YouTube for an abundance of free Yoga videos!
You’ll know by now that I use Yoga With Adriene and I’m an extremely dedicated viewer and user of her channel. I love her vibe and her attitude. I love how inclusive she is and how she teaches. Going to classes just isn’t for me. I suffer with anxiety, I hate getting too hot and the uncontrollable aspects of going to a class really put me off. So home practice works perfectly for me and is a great option for people who suffer with mental illness or even a physical disability which classes might not be right for.