Yoga is a widespread practice today, but for beginners, it can also be overwhelming. There are many different types of Yoga, there are unique and offbeat styles, and it can be both a restorative as well as a very intimidating practice.
Because it is such a vast subject, naturally, it is also surrounded by a lot of myths. And it is necessary to demystify some of them for a fruitful practice.
Let’s look at some common misunderstandings about Yoga so you can get the most out of your practice.
Myth 1: Yoga is all about flexibility.
Yoga is actually about a balance between strength and flexibility. Being too flexible is unhealthy for as it creates instability and makes us more prone to injuries. Equally being too strong also creates imbalances by restricting our movement and reducing our range of motions. When it comes to Yoga, what you want is mobility – that is the ability to move through your full range of motion without losing control.
Myth 2: If you practice Yoga, you are a very spiritual person.
Yoga was once exclusively a spiritual practice, but today it is also a wellness and stress management technique. Yoga helps relieve stress, calms down anxiety, and has been found helpful as a complementary intervention for depression. It keeps us mentally healthy, which is a primary need in today’s time. Therefore, not everyone who comes to the practice may have a spiritual bent of mind – people also practice Yoga for its therapeutic benefits.
Myth 3: Yoga teachers are like spiritual gurus who should be revered and followed.
No. They’re regular human beings. They’re teachers like there are teachers and coaches in other subject matters. Elevating professional yoga teachers to the status of a spiritual Guru sets the stage for manipulation and promotes the personality cult. One should be very careful about this pitfall.
Myth 4: You have to do complicated advanced poses to get the benefits of Yoga.
Moderate asana practice with foundational postures will give you all the benefits of Yoga if combined with pranayama and Meditation. Do remember that Yoga is not just about asanas – Breathing exercises and Meditation also play an essential part. Yoga benefits you the most when you combine all three – Asana, Pranayama, Dhyana.
Myth 5: Everyone can achieve all yoga poses if they try hard enough.
The answer is no. You need to give time and be very consistent in your practice to achieve certain poses. Even then, some poses will simply not be possible or be much harder for some due to our unique anatomies and skeletal structure. Forcing the body can result in injuries and permanent damage to the joints. There is no such thing as a perfect posture. Yoga is a journey, and it is the journey that is rewarding, not the pose itself.
Myth 6: No pain, no gain.
Quite the opposite ~ if you’re in pain, stop. You need to push yourself to a point where you’re challenging yourself, not torturing yourself. It can be mildly uncomfortable, but nothing more. Get to that point of moderate discomfort and breathe deeply. Hold it for 6 to 9 breaths. If it’s not comfortable and you need to come out in 3 breaths, you’ve gone too far. Reduce intensity and focus on holding the pose longer at a suitable level.
Remember that to get the maximum benefit from your yoga practice, you should practice all three steps – Asana, Pranayama, and Meditation. It is this holy trinity that brings about transformation and magical changes in our physical and mental health.