|Yoga Myth #1
Yoga & Stretching are the Same – False!
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just a physical workout. Yoga is unique because we utilize the breath to harmonize the fluctuations of the mind into a more coherent and intelligent rhythm. Aligning the body, breath and mind helps to direct our attention. Since much of our lives is spent in outer stimulation one way we focus in yoga is through inward attention. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment and can eventually take more skillful action. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will become more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.
|Yoga Myth #2
Yoga is Dangerous – Not really…
This is a tricky one. In January 2012 the New York Times published a highly controversial and opinionated article, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” and the blogosphere went wild. While the article does make some valid points but it’s extremely unbalanced. Can you get hurt doing yoga? Of course, injuries happen. But this is true of any and all physical activities!
In general, yoga is very safe and the benefits of the practice – stress reduction, improved balance and flexibility, weight loss, management of chronic health conditions, etc. – far exceed the risks. When people get hurt in yoga it’s usually because they are misaligned in a posture without awareness or pushing their body beyond its limits. This is why it’s extremely important to practice yoga with qualified, experienced instructors, listen to your body and never force a posture. Yoga is a marathon, not a sprint, and each day is different. Consistent and patient practice will inspire subtle physical, mental and emotional change over time.
|Yoga is a Religion
Yoga is not a religion. Yoga has no singular creed or ritual by which adherents profess their faith or allegiance. Similarly there are no religious obligations, such as attending mass or worshiping a deity, associated with the practice. If anything yoga is first a science and second an art. Yoga has its roots in many ancient yoga texts that encourage students to question the status quo and describe character building ideals, postures, breath techniques and meditation practices. It is understandable how some might perceive yoga to be a religious practice since its roots are from another country and culture, yet the practice we experience in the West is a modern evolution of ancient teachings coupled with anatomy, physiology and kinesiology.
The science and art of yoga invites us into greater connection of the body, mind and heart. As we attune more fully to ourselves it enriches our connection to loved ones, colleagues, nature and the world at large. At Yoga Six we believe that yoga is a personal practice. Yoga means different things to different people and there is no right or wrong way to practice.
|Yoga is for Women
This is a common misconception that has probably kept many men from practicing and reaping the health benefits of yoga. Truth be told, the first practitioners of yoga were men. We’re not sure when or where the idea that yoga is for women originated – anything can happen over the course of 10,000 years – but the tide seems to be shifting. The recent rise in popularity of yoga amongst Westerners continues to be female dominated but men are catching up quickly. Even more interesting (and awesome) is the diversity of men who now practice yoga. CEO’s, celebrities, professional baseball and basketball players and even U.S. Navy Seals have all reported on the physical and mental benefits of practicing yoga.
And for all you single guys out there… the ratio is in your favor!