Debunking Yoga Myths That Keep You from Practicing

While yoga has been gaining mainstream popularity, there are many who are hesitant to try it out because of misconceptions around the practice. Some think it isn’t for them because of their preconceptions about yoga. Hesitation to try out yoga may arise due to many reasons, and it’s good to sort through them and decipher which of them are fact and which are fiction. Today, we’ll be debunking the most popular yoga myths that keep you from practicing.

Yoga isn’t for men

Many men are apprehensive of taking a yoga class because they think that only women practice yoga. This is not true. Yoga actually started as an activity primarily being practiced by males. Moreover, many professional male athletes also do yoga to help with their flexibility and strength. NBA stars like Shaquille O’Neil and LeBron James have been yoga advocates for quite some time.

Yoga is all about stretching

People are turned off by yoga because they think it’s just stretching, which is false. Elite Daily health writer Georgia Barbari explains how there is more to yoga than increased flexibility and muscle recovery, as it is a good from of exercise in its own right. There are many movements in yoga that require pushing yourself away from the ground, which helps in strengthening the core and arms. Moreover, hatha yoga, which requires a lot of prolonged balance, tones the whole body through staying still.

Yoga is for religious and spiritual people

Yoga is closely associated with religion and spirituality, but Yoga Press clarifies that you don't have to be spiritual to practice. Granted, yoga is spiritual in that it facilitates the connection between your mind, body and spirit. However, there is no required belief system to practice yoga. The great thing about yoga is that it serves you regardless of your spirituality.

Yoga is for really fit people

Yoga can be intimidating especially for beginners. Seeing Instagram accounts of people bending into incredible shapes with their chiseled bodies may give off the impression that you have to be super fit to get into yoga. This is far from true. There are different types of yoga classes out there to suit people at different stages of fitness. You can practice yoga at age 15 or 65, whether you’re disabled or super fit. And it will benefit everyone.

Yoga is just for mental relaxation

Many think of yoga as something you do when you want to relax the mind. While yoga does promote mental relaxation, that’s not its only benefit. The practice of yoga also supports cognitive abilities. A study conducted by the University of Waterloo found that practicing just 25 minutes of yoga daily can boost the brain's executive functions. It can specifically improve focus and goal-directed behavior. This is because it helps reduce stress, which in turn helps with focus and attention. This is backed up by psychological research that examines how mental health affects a person’s ability to absorb information. A long form post by Maryville University on psychology in education explains how more specialists are understanding this growing connection between mental health and learning success. And in turn this knowledge is leading more people to turn to practices like yoga to improve their cognitive ability.

I’m not flexible enough for yoga

This is definitely one of the lousiest excuses not to practice yoga. It’s as if someone says they’re too sick to go to the doctor. If you consider yourself stiff or inflexible, the more you should consider doing yoga. It may not be easy, but it may be the best reason to start practicing. Little by little, yoga improves your range, motion and flexibility. This will reduce aches and pains you may experience later on down the road.

Yoga is only for rest days

Gym rats or serious athletes think that yoga is only for rest days, when they aren’t lifting heavy or doing intense training. Again, yoga can serve you in the way your body needs at the time, but it doesn’t end there. There are some yoga classes that are more restorative than others, like yin yoga. However, there are also classes that are just as intense as lifting like Bikram or Ashtanga.

You have to wear certain clothes to a yoga class

Bloggers in hip yoga outfits may be dominating your social media feed, but that doesn’t mean you have to come to class wearing that too. In fact, most people who originally practiced yoga would wear just about anything. There shouldn’t be any pressure for you to wear hip and trendy yoga kits just to get to the studio. More than that, they won’t help you perform any better. The best yoga class outfit is the one you're most comfortable wearing.

You have to stick to one instructor

Some people think that to get the most out of yoga, you have to identify the one teacher who's right for you. In our article How To Find The Right Yoga Teacher For You we believe that it's more helpful to consider what you need in life and how you think your instructor can lead you towards that. We may need different things at different times of our lives, and it's okay to have multiple instructors who can help during each phase.

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By Lucy Jane