With the increased popularity of yoga in recent times, there has also been an increase in the number of myths surrounding it. If you are sceptical about yoga and its benefits, you may hold one or more of these common misconceptions about what it means to practice yoga. Read on to discover four myths about yoga, and how to deal with them.
Myth: You need to be flexible
Whether you can touch your toes or not, you’re not going to be turned away from a yoga class. You are likely to learn how flexible you are in a yoga class, but that’s certainly not an eligibility criteria. A yoga class is much more than a flexibility class, so don’t let that put you off. If you struggle with flexibility, yoga will be even more beneficial for you. Increasing your flexibility is actually a reason to attend a class. Regular yoga practice will help your body to become more flexible, as it includes stretching in different ways. You are unlikely to stretch in as many ways in your everyday life.
Myth: You need to be spiritual
You’ll realise that you don’t need to be spiritual within five minutes of stepping in to a yoga class. People practice yoga for many different reasons and yoga classes meet these different needs. If you’re looking for a yoga class that also has a spiritual element you’ll be able to find it. Yoga is very much a personal practice, and what it means to you has no bearing on whether you can do it or not. The best way to dispel this myth is just to go ahead and try a class – whether online or in-person – and see for yourself!
Myth: You have to be vegan
You could be forgiven for thinking yoga and veganism go hand-in-hand. Many yoga practitioners are also vegan, but the two are mutually exclusive. A Jivamukti yoga practice, has veganism as one of the five tenets of the Jivamukti belief system. However, you have to be a vegan to do a Jivamukti yoga class.
You may find that yoga encourages you to be more self-aware, and you might decide to go vegan for different reasons, but yoga doesn’t need to be one of them!
Myth: You have to (be able to) meditate
Yoga and meditation tend to go hand in hand, in part because yoga is often a moving meditation. Meditation is also prominent in yoga because the physical aspects of yoga (asanas) were originally intended to prepare the body for a period of seated meditation. Meditation is not the end goal though. Many people find meditation beneficial to their wellbeing, and it is a great way to give yourself the time and space to practise self care. It’s also worth remembering that meditation also becomes easier with practice – the more that you do it, the easier it gets.
Yoga can be a very strong, physically challenging practice that will keep you working for almost the entire class. It can also be a slower pursuit with time and space for reflection. Whatever the type of yoga you choose, you decide what it means to you and form your own experience. If you want to make it about meditating you can, if you don’t, that’s good as well. One of the many benefits of yoga is learning to let go of expectations. Expecting to have to be able to meditate is definitely one to let go of!
We hope you have learnt a little more about these four common myths about yoga, and how to deal with them. Are there any other common myths about yoga that you have experienced? Let us know in the comments below.