The practice of Yoga is ancient and also mysterious. Thus, there many concepts of yoga that are not very clear to most people. As a result, it could be why many people still believe in myths and rumors and have prejudice about yoga even today.
Along with its burgeoning popularity, even the myths, misconceptions, prejudice and stereotypes have spread like a mushroom. Hence, to uncover the false information on Yoga and re-enlighten its reality. Here is,
List of Common Myths and Misconceptions about Yoga
1. Doing Yoga Means Just Doing Yoga Postures (Asanas)
We have all seen pictures of someone performing yoga asanas (postures) on their yoga mats but that is all that yoga is about. It is not the complete practice for total yoga. Being in the spiritual path of yoga has a lot more than doing postures.
As mentioned in the 8 Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) from the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, yoga has 8 different limbs and only one among them is the practice of Asanas.
2. Yoga and Meditation Is Completely Different
Another popular myth associated with Yoga is that yoga and meditation are two different practices. This belief must be largely due to the association of yoga only with Yogic postures and asanas.
However as mentioned above in ‘Ashtanga Yoga’, along with asanas (postures) even meditation is another vital limb of yogic philosophy. In fact, one of the primary goals of practicing all the asanas is to make out body ready and able for meditation.
3. Yoga Is Similar to Physical Exercise and Workout
While yoga is a really good form of exercise and workout for the whole body, it is more than just that. Yoga brings a unanimous harmony of mind, body, and spirit. It is a workout not just for the body but also the mind.
The ancient technique is the tool that liberates you from your mental distortions, your false notions, the illusions; it calms your mind from those distortions and hence unites you with your highest self. In simpler terms, Yoga unites the individual consciousness with the Universal Consciousness. Read More
4. Flexibility Is A Must For Yoga
Regular practice of yoga asanas makes not just our body but also our mind flexible. However one doesn’t have to be flexible to start practicing yoga. In fact, only a small portion of yoga philosophy is based on the physical postures.
While the practice of yoga does require physical postures but executing them rather requires one to have a calm mind and a steady body. As per flexibility, one must have the attitude of pushing the body and stretch slightly more than what one feels comfortable.
5. It Is A Hippie Trend
Yoga is not about wearing mala beads, smoking weed, wearing fancy ‘pajamas’ and hugging the trees. The regular practice of the techniques benefits the practitioner in numerous ways which have attracted people of all shorts.
So did the practice of spirituality and yogic methods attract many towards Yoga and India during the ’60s and ’70s. During this wave of hippie culture, many of them found solace and peace from drugs and in life through Yoga. Thus, this is largely why hippie culture is associated with yoga.
6. Doing Yoga Is Tough
The first few steps are always difficult in any journey but the way always gets easier with time and continuum. The same is the case with Yoga. Leaning anything properly, that is new is always challenging, the same thing applies to yoga.
However, yoga is also one of the easiest things to do if you have the right zeal and attitude for it. Here, the difficult thing to do is to be in discipline. As mentioned above, yoga is also a mental workout. Thus, it is a challenging practice for the mind more than the body.
7. Only Women Practice Yoga
Having mostly women practicing yoga around has suddenly given this false notion that it is a practice only for the ladies. However, yoga once used to be a male-only practice, especially in the USA. It was not until Indra Devi, the first woman to study yoga, opened her first studio in the U.S in 1947 that the picture began to change.
Today, more than 20 million Americans practice yoga. But less than 18% of them are men. However, in the past few years, everyone from Footballers, Hollywood Celebrities, NBA Athletes to firefighters are turning towards yoga. Thanks to the growing popularity of its health and mental benefits it offers.
8. Pregnant Women Should Not Do Yoga
The benefits of yoga are limitless. Thus, yoga benefits all the faculties and keeping the body systems and mind relaxed even when one is pregnant. There are many yoga postures and processes a pregnant woman shouldn’t be doing.
However, various yogic practices and postures that are also highly beneficial to pregnant women which should be a must during such periods. Thus it is best to practice yoga under the supervision of an experienced Yoga teacher.
9. Practicing Yoga Means To Becoming A Hindu
The philosophy and techniques of yoga were discovered under the Hindu culture but practicing yoga doesn’t make one a Hindu. Yoga is about the self, the body, the mind, and the spirit which could/should never be associated with a particular religion.
Yoga is a way of living, a tool to make the quality of life better. It is a holistic scientific approach to living life fully which transforms the whole individual.
10. Learning Yoga From Books, Videos or Internet
Having guidance, a teacher, a master always makes life easier. Similarly, having proper guidance in yoga will accelerate one’s growth, point out the flaws and give a proper direction and instructions to perform.
The vast amount of information on yoga found in the books and the internet can always be used for additional knowledge. However, this should never be taken as the primary guidance for this path. This impulsive way of learning without guidance has caused damages to them in some cases irreversible damages.
Yoga might seem to be very simple and easy to learn. But you still need a proper direction from a Yoga Guru or trained Yoga teacher with experience to head towards the right direction in the path.
Yoga is a tool, knowledge, practice that everyone can benefit from. As a result, people must be cleared for the misconceptions about Yoga. Do you agree?