Yoga is a very popular form of exercising and spiritual balancing, but it is also very often understood by a lot of people. This is almost inevitable when you consider the incredible popularity of Yoga as a discipline and the many different strands that Yoga has.
Quite often people have experience with one type of Yoga but not another, and as such, they will base their overall impression of Yoga on what they have seen. It is like people basing their impression on all cars made by Ford because the first car they had was made by Ford and it broke down, or all Dr.’s are bad because they had a bad Dr. once.
The truth is that Yoga can be very different depending on who you learn it from and how they perceive Yoga. This article looks at some of the common misconceptions surrounding Yoga.
Yoga Myth #1: Yoga is a form of exercise.
Well yes, it is, but so is walking. I can walk from my couch to my table and I can hardly claim to have done my exercise for the day. The truth is that exercise is just the beginning of what yoga is. It’s closer to a combination of exercise, physiotherapy, psychology, and spirituality all rolled into one.
The more you practice Yoga you will naturally become more and more mentally strong, and most importantly discipline. If you can discipline yourself to do regular Yoga sessions, and maintain your discipline to do each pose the best you can, you can reap huge health benefits for your body both mentally and physically. For some people, this transcends to a spiritual level because they are so efficient and clearing their thoughts while meditating.
Yoga Myth #2: Yoga is for Hippies.
As previously mentioned Yoga can be a very spiritual experience if you become good enough at clearing your thoughts and concentrating whilst performing the exercises. But you certainly do not have to begin with any spiritual belief.
Yoga believes in aligning the body and the mind and the spirit through achieving inner balance. What that means to you is probably going to depend entirely on what your beliefs already are. For some people it will be a spiritually freeing experience, for others it will be an effective way of distressing and achieving a level of calmness of thought. Still others will claim that these things are one and the same.
Yoga Myth #4: Yoga is a fad.
Recently there have been some very hyped up Yoga courses making big claims about what Yoga can achieve. These are easy to associate with other ‘fad’ exercise crazes. However Yoga is not something new and is based in documents that are hundreds of years old which describe exercises and poses that were probably being performed for generations before that. An individual style of Yoga may come and go, but as long as people are still stretching before a game of football then Yoga will still be being used.
Yoga Myth #5: Yoga is too slow to help me lose weight/gain tone etc.
This one is way off the mark, but we have been somewhat trained by the weight loss industry that weight loss, and toning our body is all about hours in the gym and fast high impact exercise. That’s simply not true. Yoga can help with weight loss and in particularly toning for a number of reasons.
Firstly the exercises, while low impact and performed either statically or slowly – are still exercises. While you use them you are using your muscles, and in many cases, you are using muscles and muscle groups that regular exercise programs ignore.
The second way that Yoga can be of benefit in a weight loss program is that it will increase your mental strength and allow you to be more disciplined. The third benefit of Yoga in weight loss, as your muscles develop your body will actually become more efficient at consuming foods and processing them into nutrients and waste.
Hopefully we have now gone some way to explaining away the various myths associated with Yoga. It is such a broad topic that it is very much a case of Yoga being what you make of it.