Gen Whitson is a professional cyclist and Meadowlark Yoga student. In this post, Gen debunks some myths around the practice and reinforces the fact that yoga really is for everyone.
Yoga has become such a normal part of my weekly routine that I had forgotten that the very word ‘YOGA’ can be daunting to other people. The word ‘yoga’ seems to press a nerve – it takes people outside their comfort zone – I think this is mostly because they aren’t entirely sure what the practice behind the word really is. Yoga is often associated with certain types of people, certain postures and certain ways of life… these stereotypes have created many myths around yoga that are simply not true.
Let’s examine some of these.
Myths verses reality…
- It’s only for fit & flexible people – Yoga is for everyone and there is a class out there to meet your individual needs! Anyone of any fitness level can do it.
- It’s for hippies and people with dreadlocks – Yoga attracts an incredibly wide spectrum of people now, from all walks of life, and there is no judgement as to what you look like, wear or how you practice.
- It’s really just for spiritual gurus – While spirituality can be developed through the practice of yoga and some choose to focus on this aspect more than others, there are plenty of people who simply do yoga for the joy of moving their body, breathing deeper and calming their mind.
- I will have to chant or pray in class – NOT TRUE! While there are *some* classes that require this, there are many classes that don’t and no yoga teacher is going to make you do something you don’t feel comfortable with.
- I will have to get really sweaty or wear weird yoga pants – Getting really sweaty happens in hot yoga classes that are specifically designed for detoxing and to help you expand your personal boundaries of flexibility. There are also classes that are designed to simply get you slowly into new positions, moving ‘at your own pace’, and I can personally vouch that these classes do not leave you dripping with sweat. You are also free to wear what ever you feel comfortable in (within reason!). I don’t even own a pair of yoga pants, and I have been practicing for over 8 years now. There are, however, lots of cool and hip yoga pants available if you do want to try them – definitely not weird!
- If I don’t go every week I won’t progress – This is simply not true. Even one yoga class a month is enough to get things moving and shaking your body at a very gentle pace. The more you go, the easier it gets; but yoga can still contribute positively to, and work around, your lifestyle, even if you have very little spare time.
- Everyone else doing it will be amazing and I’ll be the only one struggling – There is no judgement in a yoga class and, truth be told, the majority of people are so focused on their own progression that they will not have time to be laughing at you! Relax and just go with your own pace.
Yoga can be spiritual, it can be disciplined, it can include breathing control, meditation, the adoption of specific body postures…the list goes on. The main thing to remember is that yoga means something different to every individual. Explore what yoga means to you on a personal level and that this meaning will differ to everyone else’s around you. You may find that some parts of yoga resonate better with you than others and that is totally fine. Sometimes when I go, I don’t want it to be too intense or too disciplined so I simply choose a different class based on my specific needs at the time. Right now, I need more ‘down time’, so the perfect class for me is Yin yoga, but they may change next week!
I would encourage anyone reading this, who has a niggle in their head to explore yoga, to follow through with that inner voice – our intuition is spot on and there is a beginners yoga course at Meadowlark waiting for you.