What’s stopping you from starting yoga? Is it the fear of not fitting in; the fear of not looking the part; or the fear of having to change your religion? These and so many more things are reasons why people have said they’re afraid to start yoga. I’ve been there and for over 3 years I pondered starting yoga because of some of these same reasons. Starting yoga has been one of the best things I could’ve ever done for myself and I want to continue to spread the gospel of just how awesome it is.
Here are 4 myths about yoga that I’ve personally encountered debunked.
1. Yoga is easy and boring.
I used to be one of those people who thought yoga was blah and wouldn’t benefit me in any way. I remember going to a class about 10 years ago and walking out mid-way through because I thought it was boring and too easy. (Ego much?) Let me just say, yoga is what you make it. I’ve always been a pretty flexible person, so certain postures and inversions came easily to me—or so I thought. Once I started Yoga Teacher Training I realized a few things: Alignment was pivotal to really getting the most out of postures; holding postures for extended periods of time is killer; (Kripalu Yoga anyone); and breathing properly will make or break a flow. There are many types of yoga ranging from gentle, (Yin Yoga) to very strong (Power Yoga, Ashtanga, Iyengar) and more. Yoga isn’t as high impact as my High Intensity Interval Training workouts, but I can honeslty say I’m the leanest I’ve been for years and I can honestly attribute that to starting my yoga journey, a year-and-a-half ago.
2. You have to look a certain way to practice yoga.
I’m a firm believer that yoga is for every body. There’s no one color, gender, shape, age or size that yoga is exclusive to. Yes, there are times when I walk into a class and I’m the only yogi of color on the scene, but I don’t feel othered or like an outcast. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with yogis who are kind and inclusive. We try not to pass judgement on ourselves and others. It’s really quite freeing and inspiring. I’m not discounting instances of judgement or othering that people have shared in the yoga space, but this is my personal expeirience thus far. I encourage anyone who’s having second thoughts about how you look or whatever the case may be, to avoid atmospheres where this kind of behavior is displayed, but don’t give up on the practice because of a few bad apples.
Check out the tips for starting an a home yoga practice if you haven’t discovered your ideal yogi crew.
3. You have to be flexible to start yoga.
You don’t have to be flexible to start yoga. It’s called practice for a reason! You don’t have to be a walking noodle to get on the mat and slay! All you need is an open mind, will power and an openness to learn new things about yourself. Your practice is about you and no one else. Don’t compare yourself to others. Honestly, the beginning rarely looks like the end and a few of my yogi buddies are ridiculously advanced in their practice now, but when they first started they couldn’t touch their toes! Start where you are to get to where you want to be. This journey is yours to master; Don’t allow fear to keep you from pursuing this experience.
4. You have to convert to a new religion to practice yoga.
When I first started yoga, one of the first things people asked was if I had converted from Christianity to Buddhism or Hinduism, or if yoga was my religion. The truth is: Yoga is a very spiritual practice that isn’t rooted in one specific religious belief. It’s rooted in finding enlightenment and truth—and this means different things to different people. In Western yoga, you’ll likely practice Hatha Yoga, which focuses on physical and mental strength to guide you toward a path of enlightenment. It’s not delineating one specific spiritual alliance or one specific meaning of enlightenment or a specific path to get there. Long story short, I do have a very spiritual connection to yoga and that is a large part of why I enjoy my personal practice, however, I’m still a Christian woman and there are people of many different belief systems in my classes. When I’m on the mat practicing or meditating I draw closer to Christ and my relationship with Him is amplified. Yoga has enhanced my spiritual walk within my realm of beliefs.
What’s kept your from starting yoga nad how will you debunk those myths?