There are many misconceptions about yoga.
“Yoga is for hippies”
“I could never do Yoga, I’m not flexible”
“You do Yoga? You must be a vegan, like crystals, and diffuse essential oils.”
For many, these things may be true. However, like most things in this world, stereotypes are formed and often drive people either towards or away from things. Yoga has helped me in immeasurable ways. My physical, mental, emotional and social lives have all benefitted. I truly believe that yoga is for EVERYONE, in some way, shape, or form.
So, why do yoga?
With a background as a competitive gymnast, yoga didn’t seem too far off from the stretching and balance that I was used to. So I thought, this will be easy, right? Not exactly. Yes, some poses for me, especially when it comes to flexibility, are a piece of cake because of my already flexible limbs. However, I’m not a yoga expert or guru. I still don’t quite understand the correct form on certain poses, and lets not even get into the regret I feel instantly for not working out my legs more as I’m struggling to hold chair pose. Yoga takes the time to focus on the way your body should be positioned in relation to how it will benefit you in the present moment as well as outside of the current pose you are in. The focus is on the entire body and most importantly, your breath.
There are a ton of different types of yoga practices and classes, which is great because everyone is different. Even depending on your day or mood your body and soul may be calling for something different. For example, on days when I’m looking to sweat and work my muscles, I may take a Bikram yoga class, or even a Vinyasa yoga class. When I am feeling compelled to work on my breathing, or core I may explore Kundalini yoga.
Often times, we fall victim to rushing through life. It can be difficult to juggle a a social life, family, your professional or school endeavors, as well as individual alone time. Whether it’s a 75 minute warm vinyasa class at a studio, or 15 minutes in Savasana at home, this is the time I get to slow down, and focus on the present moment. I have one yoga teacher who always stresses that we take the tools we use in the yoga room with us outside into the world. Now, when I feel life is moving too fast and that “I don’t have enough time,” I channel my yoga breathing, and put myself into the frame of mind that I know will decrease my stress and anxiety.
For many, including me, the fear of embarassment and humility has kept me from trying new things. It can be intimidating walking into a yoga class where you dont know anyone, and you may not feel very confident in what you’re doing. You may have a yoga teacher speaking an entirely different language, naming poses that you have no idea what they are. However, I’m so glad that I didn’t let all of my insecurities and these negative thoughts keep me from trying it. You will come to find people in the yoga room are not judging you. This is one of my favorite things about the yoga community. A couple of weeks ago, I was so pleasantly surprised when the girl in front of me turned around and said, “Oh you’re so close! You got it!” As I was trying a new arm balance for the first time. One teacher I had always would say ” There is no yoga olympics.” Yoga teachers will usually stress to go at your own pace, and to push yourself, but not too far where you will hurt yourself or feel discomfort.
Theres something about the energy in a yoga room. Everyone comes together for a common purpose, to find some sort of release. We are always instructed to set an intention for our practice. In a room of about 10-20 people, there are probably some people with similar intentions, and also people with totally opposite intentions. However, I think there essentially is a common purpose that everyone is there for, and that is to benefit from the practice of yoga, and that connection in itself is energizing.
Understandably, making it to a yoga studio isn’t always possibile. It may be due to a lack of time in your schedule, financial inability, or many other obstacles. The great thing about yoga, is it can be done anywhere and any time. Even though there is nothing quite like the connection with others in a yoga room, Youtube is a great platform to be guided through a practice. Yoga has also led me to connect with others through social media. As much as scrolling through instagram looking at other yogi’s isn’t truly social interaction, it can be inspiring to see others yoga progress, or inspiration to add some new poses into my practice when I find myself wanting to spice it up.
I hope out of this, someone maybe will realize that yoga isn’t just for those who are hippies, athletes, or some other stereotype. Yoga can be for everyone. I mean, people must be raving about it for some reason, so why not give it a try? Showing up is the most difficult part, and if you have made it that far, than that is an accomplishment in itself.