If you think only flexible people can practice yoga, or that every class involves chanting “om,” think again! (Some gyms even offer yoga-inspired stretch classes that use your favorite current tunes!)
Don’t miss out on a great workout, terrific relaxation, and an essential part of your fitness program based on some serious misconceptions.
Myth 1: Only flexible, skinny, young people can do yoga.
This is probably the single most popular and most FALSE misconception that exists about yoga. One of yoga’s basic principles is finding your unique abilities and limits, and working within them. A good yoga teacher will demonstrate and encourage variations, to accommodate various levels of flexibility. Even your own body will vary in its elasticity from day to day and from left side to right. Yoga teaches us to accept that this is true, and to avoid judging ourselves on this basis.
Flexibility and balance have been cited by experts as two components of healthy aging, and they are two cornerstones of yoga. Without practice, our bodies stiffen and lose equilibrium over time, leading to many of the falls and injuries the elderly experience. The good news is that practice is all it takes to keep these skills intact so that we can grow older gracefully.
The extra stress the body endures from carrying excess weight can also be lessened with a regimen of balance, strength and flexibility. Yoga offers all three in styles that suit beginners to experts. In yoga, it’s not that practice makes perfect; practice is perfect.
Myth 2: I already stretch after my workouts, and that’s all I need.
Stretching after any workout is good, and flexibility is believed by many to be a crucial part of the “fitness triumvirate” that also includes aerobics and strength conditioning. Yoga is a very specific, safe and concentrated form of stretching, and it goes even further. When practicing, you tune in to your own body and mind so intensely that you can actually improve your mental focus and clarity in other areas of your life. Professional athletes and others swear by yoga for its ability to help them fine-tune their mental and physical performance.
Myth 3: Yoga conflicts with my religion.
Yoga is not a religion. Say it with me: “Yoga is not a religion.” While it’s often associated with Hinduism and Buddhism because it originated in India, it is in no way a part of any religion. Many original yogis used the enhanced focus mentioned above in order to deepen their forms of prayer, but modern yoga does not involve teaching any form of theology. One of the most wonderful things about yoga is that once you begin to practice, it can serve your unique needs (no one else’s!).
Myth 4: Yoga isn’t really a workout.
There are many forms of yoga that range from simply doing good deeds to a vigorous physical routine of asanas, or postures. Hatha yoga – a style that blends deep, slow breathing with strength-building postures – usually elevates your heart rate slightly. Using your own body weight and isometric strength, a typical session builds muscle evenly on all sides of your limbs and torso. A well-rounded lesson covers all the major muscle groups and many smaller muscles that are important to your balance, athletic performance, and overall musculoskeletal health. It also stimulates blood flow to connective tissues that keep our bodies functioning optimally. Many say that yoga “massages” internal organs to aid in digestion, immunity and other vital processes. Neuroscientists agree that even the simple act of breathing deeply and slowly, as we do in yoga, has a calming affect on the central nervous system. So, while you may or may not sweat in a yoga practice, you can be assured you have helped your body stay healthy and resistant to stress.
Myth 5: I’m not into all that “New Age” stuff.
At the grand old age of about 5,000 years, yoga is hardly “new age.” Originally a way to gain spiritual growth through the mastery of mind over body, yoga (here, anyway) has evolved into a very modern, very American method of stretching both body and mind. It encourages individuality and finding your own path; there is a freedom in yoga that is not found in disciplines like Pilates. Part of finding your own path is discovering your own use of the practice – where some people might feel a spiritual attachment to yoga, others use it simply as a form of great exercise. As with so many things in life, yoga is what you make of it.
So, you work hard and you play hard, right? Give yourself a treat – try a yoga class! Even better, do it at a discount by choosing one from the schedule at ClickAClass. Join your friends in a relaxed, fun atmosphere and see what yoga can do for you!
Still hesitant? What’s holding you back? Tell us here, and see if we can help debunk the myth(s) you believe.