When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them I’m a Yoga Teacher, I usually hear the same statements over and over.
And yes, yoga definitely has some stereotypical associations affiliated with it that tend to cause some of these beliefs. And I have to admit that I feel kind of sad that that has happened because it prevents a lot of people from walking into a yoga studio to take a class. But there is something I can do to help and that is to debunk these beliefs, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this article.
The 4 Big Beliefs of Yoga I Hear All the Time
1.) I Have to Be Flexible
This is the number one statement I hear from people: “Oh, I’m not flexible. I can’t do yoga.”
Can I be blunt? This statement is totally wrong. You do not need a gymnastic or dance background to do yoga.
(Note: So you know, I cannot do a split like that….my groins would probably crack and my back does not bend that deeply! But I can do a modified version and that’s what’s so cool about yoga – everything can be modified! And you get the same awesome benefits!)
First reason is because one of the benefits of yoga is you gain flexibility. With a dedicated yoga practice, you will increase your flexibility. Studies have proven that – even if you start practicing yoga at an older age.
So if you feel that you’re not flexible and would like to be more flexible, yoga will help you with that. And you want to stay flexible as you get older because it’s great for the joints and in most cases, really good for issues like *arthritis and other forms it takes such as *ankylosing spondylitis . You want to be able to stay mobile as you age don’t you? I know I do! And of course the type and style of yoga will be different in certain instances when you have health challenges.
I truly believe you gotta move it or you’ll lose it.
Second, anatomy can have something to do with this (see my note above again). What’s that mean? Well, if you go to a yoga class and compare yourself to the people around you who can bend and twist deeper than you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not flexible. What it can mean is that the structure of your joints is different from those people around you (which it most likely is) and that due to your unique anatomy, you may never be able to bend and twist past a certain point. And I want you to know, that’s totally ok!
So that takes care of that one.
2.) I Must Look a Certain Way to Practice Yoga
This is another statement I hear a lot: “I’m not thin enough” or “I’m too big”.
Again, big, huge, ginormous misconception.
Yoga is for Every. Single. Body. It really is. Period.
You don’t have to have a certain body type. You don’t have to wear the latest yoga fashions. You don’t have to be a certain weight. You don’t have to have perfect posture or walk a certain way.
Yoga helps you to know yourself….to be who you are…..without trying to look a certain way. Just be you. That’s all.
3.) Yoga Is Just Stretching
I hear this one a lot too. “Yoga’s just for stretching.”
Holy Wow! If someone thinks that, then they really haven’t tried yoga. Or maybe they went to a certain class that focused on stretching.
Yoga is an overall workout. I’ve seen more muscle development in myself than in the 22 years I spent at a gym.
You will sweat and work your muscles. Period.
4.) I Have to Act a Certain Way
Ok, this is a big one too!
You do not have to be a vegan or vegetarian to practice yoga.
You also don’t have to walk around with perfect posture chanting mantras and ohm-ing all day.
You also don’t have to speak a certain way. Yogi’s and Yogini’s swear. Yep, I’ve heard them myself, and I also let out a few each day. It’s ok.
You don’t have to be a saint to do yoga.
As I said above, yoga helps us to be ok with who we are.
Yoga does have a philosophy aspect to it and maybe one day you’ll learn about that too. And if it resonates with you, you’ll try some things out. Take what helps, leave what doesn’t.
Yoga can be an overall lifestyle if you want it to be.
But it doesn’t have to start that way.
Let me reiterate………
You don’t have to be flexible, you don’t need to look a certain way, it’s not just about stretching and you don’t have to act a certain way.
There is one thing you do have to do though………….and that is SHOW UP.
If you don’t ever go to a yoga studio or take an online class, you’ll never get to experience the myriad of benefits yoga has to offer, not only for your entire physical body, but also the mental aspect too, as well as a discovery of a deeper connection with yourself.
Show up, listen to your body, be grateful you showed up, repeat.
inhale – enjoy – exhale,
**IMPORTANT NOTE: Always consult your medical practitioner before starting any new kind of exercise regimen.