As yoga grows in popularity, so do the myths of yoga. Having experienced the power of yoga to transform my mind, body, and soul makes me want to share my love of yoga to the world.
Yet all too often, I meet people who are curious about the yoga practice but have not tried it yet because of certain misconceptions and myths. Today’s post aims to debunk 8 of these common myths of yoga which you should stop believing.
The bottomline is – Yoga is for everyone and anyone who has the intention to live a healthier, happier and fitter life. This holistic ancient system called Yoga has been proven over the ages to bring about wonderful benefits for the mind, body and soul.
So read on about these myths and facts of yoga before you say ‘no’ to yoga.
8 Myths of Yoga that You Should Stop Believing
1. You need to be flexible to do yoga
This is by far the most commonly cited reason for people not to start yoga. Many people think that yoga is only for the flexible. But this is similar to saying that you have to be fit in order to go to the gym, or that you have to be clean before you take a shower.
Yoga is for anyone, whether or not you are flexible. When I first started out, I could not even touch my toes. And that is why yoga is called a ‘practice’. We do it regularly, and with practice comes progress.
Flexibility is not a requirement to do yoga, but it is definitely an outcome of yoga if you practise regularly.
2. Yoga is too ‘slow and boring’; it isn’t really a workout
When people associate yoga to ‘slow and boring’ they are actually referring to certain styles of yoga that lean towards relaxation and are less physically demanding. Yet there are many styles of yoga – for those who want a more physical experience, you can always try power, vinyasa, ashtanga or hot yoga. Any of these will surely build strength, burn calories and get your heart pumping as you would a workout.
That said, I personally feel that if you are solely seeking a ‘physical workout, go to the gym. But if you want a holistic practice that works towards long term health and benefits not just your physical body but also your mental and emotional health, then do try out yoga.
3. Yoga is all about the postures (asanas) and twisting like a pretzel
When people hear the word ‘yoga’, they invariably associate it with just the asana or yoga posture practices. This may be true of yoga in the western world, but definitely not where it was originally created to be.
Yoga is a lifelong practice, or a lifestyle, that encompasses many different aspects. You may have heard the term the ‘8 limbs of yoga’ – while many of us are introduced to the practice of yoga through the asanas, that is only a part of a holistic system created by the ancient yogis. Real yoga goes beyond the physical plane and incorporates practices that help with the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of life.
If you are new to the concept of the 8 limbs of yoga, you may wish to read this article here (remember to get your free guide too).
4. Yoga is for the skinny
The truth is, yoga doesn’t discriminate any body type. It benefits anyone and can be practised by anyone who has the openness to do so.
In order to make yoga more accessible to everyone, we need to challenge the preconceived notions of what a yogi’s body SHOULD look like. More and more people are doing just that. Look at Jessamyn Stanley – a plus-size yogi is proud of her non-skinny physique and uses her Instagram to dispel this myth.
5. Yoga is for Vegan Hippies
Before we debunk this myth, I want to acknowledge that it is true that yoga encourages love, self-awareness, self-realisation. In fact, ahimsa (or non-violence) is part of the 8 limbs of yoga and it is cited as one of common reasons why yogis go vegan.
However, becoming more conscientious and ‘green’ is an outcome and not a prerequisite of yoga. It is through the regular practice of yoga that internal transformation takes place – yogis tend to become more motivated to make choices – such as becoming vegan – after they come into contact with the practice.
6. Yoga is a religion
For sure there is a spiritual element to the yoga practice, such as the practice of chants and mantras, but it is crucial to understand that yoga in and of itself is not a religion.
If you do decide to join in the mantras and chants, know that you are not converting into a “yoga religion” at all. Mantras and chants work on the energetic level, exuding certain vibrations to bring harmony and benefits to the human mind and body.
I personally find that mantras and chants work profoundly on a deeper level to induce an inexplicable a sense of peace and harmony, much as how a Christian hymn brings calmness to the listener.
During my yoga teacher training, there were many of us coming from diverse religions and beliefs. However, I found that the purpose of chanting and singing mantras is more scientific than it is spiritual – the vibrations not only helped connect all of us as ‘one’ but also worked on the energetic level to bring about greater mental peace and calm.
So yes, yoga is built on spirituality, but is not a religion and is not judgmental towards religions.
7. Yoga requires too much time
A yoga practice doesn’t necessarily require the 30, 60, or 90 minutes duration that many of us are used to in a studio setting. Having a longer yoga practice definitely has its benefits, however even a 10-15 minute yoga routine can already affect your mind, body and soul positively!
As with many movement activities, it is better to do short durations regularly than to do long practices once in a blue moon. So why not replace a short part of your TV time and come on your mat today? There are so many free resources available to help you achieve your health goals – you only need to make a choice today.
8. Yoga is only for women
Did you know that historically, yoga used to be a men-only practice. In fact, most of the yoga gurus and teachers in India (the birthplace of yoga) even up till today have been men.
I am glad to see more men practice yoga these days, but the stigma is still in the air, as evidenced by the fact that 72% of practitioners are women.
PS. you feel that my website or YouTube can do anything to inspire more men to try out yoga, let me know!
I hope that this post has helped you to see that yoga is a universal practice that can benefit anyone who is willing to give it a go – so do try it out and don’t let these misconceptions hold you back from a potentially transformative journey.
How to start your yoga journey
Ready to learn about the power of yoga to heal your body, calm your mind and achieve optimal health? Why not start with our most popular posts below.
- 9 Completely Free Yoga Resources for Beginners – Home Yoga Practice
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- Debunking the 5 Common Myths of Having a Home Yoga Practice
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The YogaMad is founded by Mila, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.