When it comes to what most people know about yoga, the odds are that there is as much myth as there is truth mixed in with the information. Despite the fact that the practice has become very popular, there are still a surprising number of people who think that it involves tying yourself into pretzel-like knots while standing on your head.
It's a good idea to learn the truth of the matter before you get started, or in case a misunderstanding has been stopping you from getting into it in the first place. The main reason is that many of these myths have lead to misconceptions that make the practice seem far less approachable than it actually is.
The following are some of the most common yoga myths that have stopped people from giving it a try:
• Yoga requires flexibility – this is the most common misunderstanding about yoga and it is the largest barrier that exists to adoption of the practice. Yoga isn't about flexibility at all. It is about being mentally, physically and spiritually present in the here and now. Even without flexibility, it can be practiced.
• The purpose of yoga is to learn strange poses – yoga is much less about performing poses than most people actually think. Though there are poses that can be practiced, their purpose is to help practitioners to learn the balance between ease and effort. Through them, we learn about the continual evolution of life and accepting change as it happens so that a more accepting and peaceful mindset can be achieved.
• Yoga is a religion – while yoga does have a spiritual component, it can be practiced no matter what religious beliefs a person does or does not have. Absolutely no faith requirements exist for practicing yoga.
• You must be slim and fit to practice – yoga is open to every person with every physical appearance and fitness level. A central component of practicing yoga is self-acceptance. This means that all body types and genders can take part.
• It will make you act like a new-age stereotype – just because sitcom yoga instructors talk about peace and love and wear bohemian clothing, it doesn't mean this is a reflection of reality. Every instructor is different and no one is expecting you to change who you are. You won't need to become vegan and you don't need to start speaking of mysticism or free spirits. You just need to be present in the here and now.