Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular practice across the globe. This ancient Indian practice can offer many health and spiritual benefits to almost anyone who is willing to take up a yoga class. Unfortunately, many people shy away from yoga due to common misconceptions about this ancient practice. You may have heard and read a lot of things about yoga that simply aren’t true. Yoga is different things to different people. To help you learn what yoga is and what it isn’t we’ve debunked list of 5 common yoga myths you should be aware of before bringing your conclusions about this ancient practice.
- Yoga is Only for the Flexible and Fit
Yoga postures also called asanas take time to master. One can easily become discouraged when seeing yogis in back-bending poses, but we assure you most of these yogis have started from where you are now. No one starts yoga with the most advanced forms of asanas. Just like any discipline, it takes time and practice to master the more complex asanas. Besides this, yoga is not really all about flexibility as much as it is about alignment. Yoga is meant to help you find what you are capable of and not to push your body into impossible postures. With time and practice, your body will become accustomed to the poses and you will witness your flexibility increasing. How much you will become flexible depends on your age, your health and your will.
- You Need to be Healthy to Practice Yoga
There are as many yoga classes out there as there are different needs. If you’ve suffered an injury or have developed a serious illness, there are specialized yoga classes that can help you in your recovery. In fact, there are numerous scientific studies that proved the immense health benefits of yoga for weight loss. One study on yoga effects on joint pain found that integrated yoga classes helped in providing joint pain relief to osteoarthritis sufferers. In fact, this study found that integrated yoga was better than physiotherapy exercises in reducing pain and improving mobility. Besides joint pain relief, yoga can help people improve their fitness after injuries, help pregnant women remain physically and emotionally healthy etc.
- Yoga is not as good as exercising
The asanas in hatha yoga are done in a slow and controlled fashion making it seem too gentle to offer the same benefits as, say, cardio workout. In actuality, there are yoga asanas that require quite some effort. A lot of yoga poses require you to carry your own body weight which can leave you gasping for air. Breathing techniques, which are often part of asanas, help in endurance and also improve heart rate. There are plenty of yoga practices to choose from and some of them require strength and durability if you are looking for a more challenging exercising program.
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- Yoga is a Religion
Yoga originated in India and it draws upon the teachings from this region including some religious beliefs. However, yoga itself is not a religion. The word „yoga“means „union“; union of the individual consciousness with the universe. It also means union of the mind, body and spirit. Yoga in short is meant to help you become wholesome, something that is central to most religious teachings. You can integrate some of the teachings behind yoga into your daily practice, but this is not a general rule. The only thing you need to do if you want to practice yoga asanas is your body and breath.
- Yoga is the Same as Stretching
Although most people in the West practice yoga to improve their physical health and flexibility, yoga poses constitute only a fraction of what yoga actually is. Yoga is a discipline whose aim is to establish harmony of the mind, body and breathe through a series of techniques which involve postures or asanas, breathing exercises and meditation. Yoga helps you become aware of your body, your thoughts and the nature of the universe. The asanas have their health benefits all in themselves, but the wide-ranging benefits of yoga should not be neglected. One study of yoga found that 81 university students had a wide range of psychological benefits from integrated yoga classes in comparison with exercise yoga. The benefits were lower stress levels, a decrease in depression and increase in hopefulness. In other words, integrated yoga offers psychological benefits that you wouldn’t get from mere physical exercising.
Yoga is gaining in popularity worldwide not only for its health benefits but also for the spiritual aspect of this practice. However, some people have misconceptions about yoga that prevent them from integrating yoga into their daily lives. A common misconception is that you have to be young and flexible to practice yoga. Another misconception is that yoga is a type of religion with a fixed set of beliefs. While true yoga does contain a certain life philosophy, this does not mean that you have to throw away your beliefs for the sake of yoga. The philosophy of yoga is easy to integrate into your life philosophy.