5 Yoga Myths Dispelled
by Lee Barkley
Is one of these myths keeping you from having a blast in a yoga class? Let’s dispel 5 common myths that could be standing in the way of you and yoga.
Myth #1: You have to be good at yoga to do yoga
What comes to mind here is practice makes perfect. Except the good news is that there is no perfect in yoga! It always surprises me when I hear someone say that they want to go to yoga but don’t because they weren’t ‘good’ at it when they went to their first class. Or that they don’t think they would be good at it. There really is no ‘good’ at yoga and certainly no award medals to take home. Often with the body, we put the focus on the wrong things. The gross physical displays of flexibility and strength. You’re doing yoga just by breathing in a posture. And you’re doing it well if your breath is full and relaxed. Yoga is a lifelong practice opportunity with endless variety. Come as you are.
Myth #2: You have to be flexible to do yoga
A common misconception about yoga is that you have to be flexible or in-shape to go to a yoga class. When learning something new, we all want to do be the best. Our society rewards champions. Yoga has a reputation for impressive displays of flexibility and strength. Extremes get attention. What is a new beginner to do? In my first yoga class, I couldn’t touch my toes in forward bends. Slowly, I could stretch farther. After 13 years, that has become my new normal. Innate to every body is an area of less flexibility. That’s the reality for every single person. Practicing yoga brought me more flexibility and keeps me there. Yoga was the way to flexibility. I just had to keep showing up to the mat and breathing through the exercises.
Myth #3: Everyone is staring at me
In my first yoga class, I remember being terrified of wearing stretch pants and athletic shirt in front of an entire class of people. The class was fun and uplifting. Relaxing and rewarding. That fear wore off and it was replaced with joy, curiosity and fun! Now, as a teacher I can see the entire class. I see where the focus is and its always on their own movements and what’s next. It reminds me of the old saying that the spider is more afraid of you than you are of it.
Myth #4: Yoga isn’t a workout
People who have never been to a yoga class or who haven’t been to the right yoga class for their personality are likely the ones who perpetuate this notion. There are many different types of yoga with very active (constantly moving) and athletic and those that are very quiet (poses held for a longer duration with more stillness). Ashtanga yoga is one that has continuous movement with a focus on creating heat in the body. This is done by combining constant movement with difficult weight baring poses. Both get the heart rate up. Yoga uses your own body weight to strengthen and build muscle. Yoga is a workout but its not as focused on cardio as say time on the elliptical or treadmill would be for the body but it will definitely improve body composition.
Myth # 5: Yoga is only for stress
One of the amazing benefits of yoga is stress reduction. It works wonders for stress. The body holds on to stress in the muscles. It registers every emotion, thought, slight, stressor, traffic jam, disagreement. Yoga allows the body to release this through movement. This movement of the body also allows the lymph to move in the body. The lymphatic system (part of your immune system), unlike the circulatory system (blood movement through the body), requires the muscles to move it around the body and to enable it to operate effectively. All yoga poses meet this requirement but there are classes of poses in backbends and inversions that work extremely well to move the lymph. Yoga is also for strength! Every movement, every pose works the muscles. Each class sculpts the body and strengthens the muscles. Yoga is the only exercise that leads the practitioner through creating strength and flexibility. A tree swaying in the breeze is an excellent example of the balance between strength and flexibility. The tree must be strong enough to defy gravity and reach for the heavens and spread its branches wide. It must also be flexible enough not to snap when the wind blows.
Still not sure? Don’t take my word on it. Come try a class. Brickhouse Cardio Gahanna has one of the best drop-in rates for a yoga class and my specialty is helping new beginners.