If I had a pound for every time I heard "I can't do yoga because....." then I'd be writing this from a cabana on a beach somewhere afar, needless to say I'm at my desk, albeit it sunny today, in Sutton Coldfield quashing these myths for you!
Yoga is accessible to everyone, young and old, runners, couch potatoes. It's the one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things I have ever done in my life and I've given birth more than once!
Myth #1 You have to be vegan to be a yogi
So this tends to be one of the most controversial topics when discussing yoga and the lifestyle perceived with being a yogi and practising yoga. The yogic diet is pretty much what works for you. Ahimsa, non violence, is one of the 5 yamas associated with yoga. It’s true that meat is often produced without ahimsa, but there's no rule that says you have to give up meat all together. It's far more important to be aware of the environment we live in, where we source our food from and the quality of the food we eat. From experience we know how good nutritious food makes us feel vs bad choices that we sometimes make. It's about making the best choices for us and for our body and whether that contains meat and dairy or you eat purely a plant based diet, you need to find your own path and trust in it.
Myth #2 Only flexible people can do yoga
This is the phrase I hear the most and the one that resonates the most. Everyone loves the thought of yoga and the poses that they see on social media of svelte figures clad in beautiful clothes in stunning locations. But they think that it's something they can never achieve, that because they can't touch their toes today then they can't 'do' yoga. Flexibility comes with time and practicing makes it easier. There is no measure of flexibility and no goal to reach to say you are flexible. Yoga is about your journey and where it takes you. Practising yoga will change your body everyday. You will become more flexible and balanced and over time you will achieve more than you ever though was possible.
Myth #3 Yogi is religious and cult like
Yoga is NOT a religion, nor is it affiliated to any religion. While it may seem that the green juice drinking, lycra clad, chilled out people are part of a cult it's just not true! Although yoga often draws on some of the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism beacause it originated in India, it certainly isn't a religion. Yoga is a practice and exercise for the mind, body and spirit and is ultimately what you want it to be. It has to work for you and your needs and if that's daily meditation and practice or simply a weekly workout then that's fine. Yoga is a self practice, for you, no one else.
Myth #4 Yoga is for women
Yoga is not gender specific. It may seem that classes tend to be more women dominated but you can bet your bottom dollar that any Ashtanga or Bikram class you attend has at least a handful of male yogis. And lest we forget, yoga was started by men thousands of years ago and was practised exclusively by men for a long time.
Myth #5 Yoga isn't really exercise
Many people view yoga as 'just stretching' it's easy isn't it? You just stretch on your mat, it doesn't challenge you physically. And while there is a place for restorative and very gentle yoga, yoga itself can be very physically challenging.
You don't hold weights in yoga, unless you count your body. Yes your entire body is a weight that you'll use and lift while practising yoga. So you want to master an arm balance or a headstand You'll use your core strength to lift your whole body upside down and hold it there for 5, 10, however many breaths.
If that doesn't get you sweating then 5 sun salutations and at least as many vinyasas will leave even the fittest catching their breath. Yoga is focussed very much on the breath and breathing and we are taught, as yogis, to control our breathing, to breathe through any discomfort while moving and flowing under control led by our breath. So whether you want to practise yoga purely for the physical gain or you want to also involve your mind and body with the spiritual benefits, you can be assured you will be challenged in a good way.
Talk to me! Why do you, or more interestingly why don't you do yoga? I'd love to hear your story