When someone mentions yoga, do you imagine people in weird, contortionist poses and think to yourself, “I could never do that”? If so, you’re one of the many who’ve been misled by one of these popular (and incorrect) myths about yoga.
Myths, rumors, and preconceived notions about yoga have been circulating for decades. If any of these have deterred you from even taking a class, it’s time to bust them with some truth once and for all.
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The short and sweet answer to this is no, you don’t. Flexibility is a trait that needs to be practiced and nourished to be maintained, and it’s definitely not something you can gain overnight. Sure, those who have been dancing or doing gymnastics since they were three years old do have an advantage, but that doesn’t mean they’re better for yoga than you are.
Yoga consists of so many parts and flexibility is just one of them, something to work on and achieve through practice. Just like you’ll be gaining strength and getting better at holding your poses, you’ll also be able to stretch more and improve your range of motion. It all happens simultaneously.
That’s why not being able to touch your toes is not a problem whatsoever. It’s something yoga will help you achieve over time and take your body through a safe transformation where every muscle, joint, and tendon will be involved at the same time.
Many people believe that yoga needs to be practiced from a young age to get to a certain level, and that starting later in life won’t bring the same benefits. This is definitely not the case as yoga works for everyone’s body, shape, and size, regardless of age.
Specific poses might be harder to learn or do, and they’ll probably look different for a 60-year-old than someone in their 20s. However, the beauty of yoga lies in what it can do for each and every individual.
Yoga isn’t competitive—there’s no perfect alignment or posture you’re trying to achieve. Yet, you can always go further in your practice, both physically and mentally.
Physically, yoga can always help stretch out your muscles and release unnecessary tension that builds up throughout the day. It can also improve your range of motion and flexibility, allowing your joints to move freely.
Mentally, yoga can help you be more present and focused by helping you clear your head of cluttering thoughts. It can alleviate stress and relax your nervous system, thereby, improving your sleep and overall health.
Yoga blocks, straps, and other equipment are thought by some to be only for beginners, as they help them achieve some of the more advanced poses.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga props can just as efficiently help those who are well-versed in yoga but want a challenge or an extra push to get their body where they want it to be.
Props are also an amazing recovery tool, whether you’re healing from an injury or soothing sore muscles and joints after a tough workout. They’re also really wonderful tools to have at your disposal for a variety of functions, so keep them nearby whenever you’re practicing.
Another myth that has to be busted is the notion that unless a yoga class lasts for at least 60 minutes, you won’t achieve any real progress or see any results. Just like any other workout, you can create a yoga routine that will tackle the areas you need to work on in the amount of time you have.
Let’s say you’re working on deepening your backbends, but you only have 30 minutes three times per week for working out. Write down a list of poses and a sequence that includes a warmup for your spine and the surrounding muscles, specific backbend poses, and a short set of relaxing poses that will release the tension and stretch out the areas you’ve been working on.
This is plenty, and you can do it all in half the time that some consider optimal.
First and foremost, there’s no such thing as “mastering yoga,” or even a specific pose. You’ll always be growing, adapting, changing, learning, and deepening your practice, whether you’ve been doing it for a week or 20 years.
Secondly, although inversions are cool to look at and fun to learn, they aren’t a show of any real skill you need to acquire. Many people are genuinely afraid of being upside down. There are many excellent yoga practitioners who can’t hold a one-handed handstand for a full minute.
Yoga is an individual exercise, and it’s up to you to figure out which poses feel good to you. Sometimes, you might feel amazing doing a bunch of juicy twists, and others, you might just enjoy playing around with sun salutations.
Either way, there’s no set way of doing things and nailing inversions definitely doesn’t give you an advantage over those who don’t, can’t, or won’t.
Yoga is a wonderful discipline that can improve your physical and mental health, no matter what age, shape, or size you are. It provides a ton of benefits. So, let go of any preconceived notions and roll out that mat.