Friday, June 22, 2012

4 Common Yoga Myths - Busted!

Myth 1:  You have to be flexible and "in shape" to do yoga.

We’ve all seen pictures of yogis with legs bent around shoulders and feet by their heads.  But that level of flexibility—or any, for that matter—isn’t necessary to begin a yoga practice.  Rather, a regular yoga practice is an excellent way to ease into a fitter, more flexible body (and mind).  Keep your attention on your own mat and your own body, don’t worry about what’s happening around you, and let the practice work.  It’s not necessary to work into the “full expression” of a pose in order to reap its benefits; your body will tell you where it wants to go and where it needs to stop. And if you need an inspirational story, follow the link.

Myth 2:  Yoga is just a bunch of sitting around and stretching.

Well, yes…we do sit, and we do stretch during a yoga practice, and some styles are more passive than others.  Many styles (Vinyasa, for example) link postures with breath to create a continuous flow of movement that warms the body quickly and can, frankly, be one way to incorporate cardio into your exercise routine.  Once the warm up is over, there is generally a series of standing poses that challenge our strength, balance, and resolve.  After this a class will generally move onto the floor for a series of more passive, though not easy, poses.

Myth 3:  Guys don’t practice yoga.

Sure they do!  While it is often the case that yoga classes (especially in the West) are primarily populated by women, yoga began (thousands of years ago) as a practice for men.  But this is neither here nor there—anyone can reap the benefits of a practice that offers a stronger body, more focused mind, and more open heart.

Myth 4:  Yoga is boring.

It is often said that the ultimate goal of the physical practice of yoga (insofar as there is one) the ability to sit quietly and meditate.  Meditation requires a disciplined, quiet mind.  Bryan Kest, a talented teacher out of SoCal who gave a master class at Vibe last spring, made the bold claim that we don’t actually want to quiet our minds.  He explained that we are addicted to our drama because without the constant mental stimulus of stress and anxiety, we feel bored.  But without it, we might also feel happier and more grounded.  Maybe the potential boredom is worth it.

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