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Debunking Yoga Myths

Part of the Yoga For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Many myths and misconceptions surround Yoga and Yoga practice, scaring off many would-be practitioners. The following list debunks some of those myths and gives you the real story so you can confidently add Yoga to your day.

  • Yoga is only for double-jointed people. Yoga is for everyone and can be tailored to your individual needs. It doesn’t require you to turn into a pretzel.

  • Yoga is only for Asian people. Yoga originated in the East (India, to be precise), but it’s universally applicable. Besides, many of its practices have been modified to suit contemporary Western needs and tastes. Yoga is even recommended by knowledgeable physicians around the world because of its great restorative power.

  • Yoga is just a bunch of mindless exercises. The popular image of Yoga as gymnastics is wrong. The physical exercises form only a part of its comprehensive approach. What’s more, the exercises are far from mindless but instead call for focus and mindfulness.

  • Yoga is only for weaklings. Yoga favors a gentle approach, but its advanced exercises certainly call for strength and stamina. Many athletes use Yoga to complement their other forms of exercise.

  • You can’t gain muscle strength through Yoga. Yoga has a whole range of exercises that help strengthen your chest, back, stomach, arm, and leg muscles. Take a look at advanced practitioners; their muscular strength and development may surprise you! In addition to improving your strength, Yoga can help you combat stress and keep you generally fit.

  • You need a guru to do Yoga. If you couldn’t try out some basic Yoga exercises by yourself, Yoga publishers wouldn’t do the business they do. Consulting with a Yoga teacher or instructor can be helpful, but a guru is only necessary when you want to engage in Yoga as a full-fledged spiritual practice.

  • Yoga requires you to believe in all kinds of strange ideas. Yoga is based on universal principles shared by many other systems that have a holistic orientation to life. The fundamental approach of Yoga is for you to test those principles and find out for yourself whether they work for you. You either find them useful or you don’t, but no belief in bizarre ideas is necessary.

  • People over 50 can’t learn Yoga. Yoga is for people of all ages. Some people start in their 70s and 80s. It’s never too late — or early — to start practicing Yoga.

  • Yoga can only offer a handful of exercises. Yoga has a vast repertoire of exercises, and Yoga teachers are constantly adding new variations on these exercises to refine the system and make it suitable for the widest range of people possible.

  • You can practice Yoga once a month and achieve good results. As with any other exercise system, you get out of Yoga only what you put into it. Regular daily Yoga practice gives the best results, but rest assured that a little effort does go a long way.

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