Since I started running my tumblr blog, my aim has always been to make yoga accessible to every single person out there. In my opinion, yoga has got to be one of the most misunderstood sport out there. There are so many myths and misconceptions associated with yoga that it prevented so many people from even trying in the first place. There are countless instances where I receive messages from my tumblr friends saying that they feel intimidated to try out yoga because it is (insert common misconception).
So today, I am going to be a mythbuster and smash all the common yoga myths into pieces one by one. A little disclaimer though – whatever I have expressed here are purely my own opinion and my own experience with yoga!
1. You need to be flexible to do yoga.
This has got to be one of the most common misconception about yoga. Yes a lot of the yogis you see are pretty flexible, but that’s because of their yoga practice. Personally, I was the most inflexible person who hated stretching before I started yoga. But it was yoga that allowed me to get into a full split now. So, you do not have to be flexible to practice yoga. In fact, you practice yoga to become flexible!
So don’t be discouraged if you feel inflexible doing a yoga practice. We all progress in terms of flexibility bit by bit, and these yoga sessions will help you get there eventually.
2. Yoga seems like such an exclusive sport.
To many people, yoga seems to have an air of exclusivity. It seems like a little club that seems difficult to get in. The reality of the fact is, there is no club that you speak of. Most yogis I have met are one of the friendliest, non-judgmental, and most loving people I have ever met in my life. I enjoy going to yoga class because I love practicing in a class setting with other fellow yogis.
Of course I am not going to paint an idealised picture, and there are indeed bad apples among the lot. However, the beauty of yoga does not solely lie in other yogis, it primarily lies within you. The amazing thing about yoga is that our individual yoga practice are extremely personal, and different people have vastly different yoga practices. It all lies in our personality, our inner landscape, which in turn translates into how we approach each pose in our practice.
I always say that there is no hard and fast rule in yoga. Embrace the differences. Embrace your little quirks and imperfections. Yoga taught me self-acceptance and self-love, and if you look hard enough, you will find it too.
3. Practicing yoga is like practicing a religion.
(Religion is always a sensitive topic and I am going to reiterate that this is my opinion and my own experience. I am aware that different people have different belief systems and I respect that, the point of this discussion is not really about religion, but rather, about how one can embrace yoga in their lives regardless of their beliefs.)
It is true that yoga has a history that’s rooted in religion, yoga poses are postures that are offered to the Hindu gods. However, as yoga gain greater cultural acceptance across different countries, the religious meaning of yoga becomes diluted. It would be reasonable to say that yoga has been adapted across different countries as a way of life. It would be more accurate to say that yoga has immense spiritual benefits that you can choose to embrace.
I got an interesting question in the past from a Christian who felt confused about practicing yoga as she felt that it might be against her religious beliefs. Ultimately, it depends on how you want to view yoga as. Yoga can solely be a physical activity, it can be something spiritual, it can also be a way to learn about the teachings of Hinduism. Either way, it is your choice and you can dictate what kind of roles you want yoga to have in your own life, and no one has a right to judge you on your personal choice.
4. I am too big to do yoga.
One of the things I probably have repeated the most on my tumblr is probably, “yogis come in all shapes and sizes!” And this is something that I truly believe in.
Yoga is a celebration of your body and what your body can do. It is not another way to remind you what your body is not, or what your body can’t do!
I would like to introduce to a yogi I’ve met on tumblr who has inspired many immensely with her yoga practice, Valerie. She is a wonderful person who has a very rooted yoga practice, and her yoga photos amaze me every single time because they are so beautiful.
She is an example of how your size should never dictate your yoga practice, because you can do whatever you want and no one can ever judge you for it. Valerie is a huge inspiration to every single person out there that nothing should stop you if you truly want to get started on yoga <: Remember to check her tumblr out and give her a follow! She is a wonderful soul to have on your dashboard.
5. If you do yoga, can you do flyingsquirrelelephanttrunkhamster pose?
Whenever I tell someone that I do yoga, I almost always see their eyes widen, and then the following question would be, “So does that mean you can put your feet behind your head and then bind yourself with your legs? Or (insert crazy yoga pose)?” And this question gets me all the time.
The reason why I added this as one of the top myths because with this misconception comes the idea that you need to be able to accomplish a crazy-looking pose before you are considered as someone who does yoga. I think this also in turn adds on to the air of exclusivity that yoga seems to be shrouded in.
However, you don’t have to be able to do a crazy inversion or arm balance in order to be considered a yogi! So long as you roll out your mat and have fun in your practice, you are a yogi. There is no criteria to become a yogi. <:
And by the way, do you know that savasana (corpse pose) is considered the hardest yoga pose ever? Because savasana entails the essence of yoga – of being present and just be. Our minds is always on overdrive and is always fixated on the past, or worrying about the future, that we forget about the now. But yet, only the present is within our locus of control. Savasana brings us back to our natural state of being which, ironically, we have become so foreign with.
So, if you haven’t been adding savasana into your practice, you should do so to turn a notch up in your yoga practice. <:
6. Yoga is not a real sport.
There is also this idea that yoga seems like a pretty easy activity, and hence is not really seen as a real sport. However, there are so many different kinds of yoga, and they all help you work up a sweat! Dynamic styles of yoga such as ashtanga yoga, bikram yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa flow yoga, challenge your range of motion, strength, and alignment while restorative styles of yoga such as yin yoga challenge your focus, discipline, and of course, flexibility.
On another note, there really shouldn’t be a fixed criteria of what is a ‘real sport’ and what isn’t. Who determines them anyway? What’s most important is whether you enjoy what you’re doing. And if you enjoy yoga, there is nothing anyone else should say <:
And my boyfriend + a couple of guy friends can attest that yoga is really very difficult. Hahaha.
Which brings me on the next myth…
7. Yoga is only for girls.
Although I concede that at the moment a majority of yogis are girls, there is still a fair number of men who practice yoga too! Do you know that Adam Levine and Jason Mraz are regular yogis? Other yoga dudes I can think of is Patrick Beach and Honza from YogaBeyond. They are all great yoga inspirations, and definitely challenge the notion that yoga can only be done by girls!
8. Yoga is only for people who are graceful.
It is important to remember that the graceful yoga photos that you see on tumblr or the Internet are only taken in that fraction of a second. While the grace of the pose is captured during that split second, it takes hours, days, months, and years of consistent practice in order to get to where those yogis are.
What’s important is to embrace the imperfections and quirks in your practice. Sometimes you may have a faceplant, sometimes you may fall out of a pose, but what’s important is to remain playful. Smile, laugh, and then move on. Because it’s enjoying the little things and the little baby steps in yoga that makes a yoga practice wonderful.
Do you have a yoga myth that you want to bust too? Or do you have an impression of yoga and yogis that you are not sure if it is a myth or a fact? Drop me a message below and let’s bust more yoga myths together! Namaste <3