Prejudices: These are the 5 biggest yoga myths – and how it really is

There are many myths surrounding yoga and the people who practice it. But which have anything to do with them? We eradicate yoga prejudices.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word yoga? Most of the associations we have to yoga are actually based on prejudice. These include, for example: Yoga can only be practiced by super-flexible, thin women. Or: Yoga is a quasi-religious practice that only esoteric hippies pursue. But what is yoga really? We looked at the most persistent myths surrounding spiritual practices from India.

The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About Yoga – And Why Not Much Of It

Only slim, young women can practice yoga

Instagram and the audience in many yoga studios in major western cities trick us into believing that only women who look like models belong on the mat. In fact, yoga was originally a purely spiritual practice when it originated about 2,500 years ago – and only for men. Women were excluded from this for religious reasons. Fortunately, that has changed, but still: Yoga is not about how you look, whether you are a woman or a man, thick or thin – it’s just about bringing body and mind in harmony with each other.

There are probably still many overweight people who do not feel comfortable in the yoga studio surrounded by super slim, perfectly styled girls. Ideally, those who practice yoga for a longer period of time will at one point only be able to concentrate on themselves, compare themselves less with others – and thus ignore the surroundings while practicing.

Nevertheless, a good yoga teacher should make practice accessible to all. He or she should show variations to the exercises so that everyone can do them. Yoga is not about forcing your body into any possible posture, it is about changing the posture so that it works for your body. And there are also many teachers who offer specific yoga classes for the needs of the body beyond the norm.

2. Yoga only works if you are super flexible

And the next myth on the subject of “physical demands”. To think that you are not flexible enough for yoga is like saying that I am too dirty to take a shower. Agility comes with time. If you exercise regularly, you will notice how your body changes, and certain exercises will eventually be much easier to do.

However, it is also important to remember that every body is unique, and there are people for whom certain positions are simply not possible from an anatomical point of view – and they will not even be in several years. And in fact, it’s not bad at all. For with yoga, the goal is not a particular physical achievement, but the connection between body, mind and soul.

Yoga is a sport

This prejudice is based on the previous two. Because as yoga is taught in many Western yoga studies, for many people it is simply a workout. Yoga is so much more than exercise. Yes, the physical exercises (asanas) can be exhausting and of course also make you fit. But this is not a goal in itself, for asanas were originally intended only to prepare the body to sit for a long time in meditation. No one thought of flat stomachs and defined arms back then. So the physical part of yoga is just a tool for holistic practice of body and mind.

Of course, this does not mean that it is completely wrong if someone “only” practices asanas. For yoga also has many health benefits physically, for example for the back. Just do not forget what the origin of it all was. But as long as you approach the practice of mindfulness for your own body and openness to the philosophical roots, there is nothing to say against it.

4. Yoga only makes esoteric fun brakes

The common myth is that all yogi: nis decorate their homes with singing bowls, crystals and incense sticks, never touch a drink and basically only eat sprouts and nuts. And yes: this prejudice is probably not completely out of the blue. Too many people who engage in yoga intensively also like the spiritual side of it all and give it a certain space – even in their home. And vegetarian or vegan nutrition, for example, has a long tradition in many yoga styles because it is based on the principle of “Ahimsa”, ie non-violence.

But, and this is also an important part of the yoga philosophy: Yoga does not want to exclude anyone and does not place itself above others. So absolutely no one is “worse” for yoga because they do not do those things or because they do not like certain aspects of yoga. Yoga is so incredibly diverse – and then everyone can choose the parts of practice that work for them.

5. Yoga only works if you can extinguish your thoughts at the touch of a button

Many people think they are just too restless for yoga. It’s like being dirty and taking a shower: because calming your mind is something you learn in yoga and practice again every day – and not a prerequisite.

Many people quickly become discouraged when, after a few weeks or months of yoga practice, they still cannot calm down during shavasana (final relaxation), and their thoughts happily continue to go around. However, this is a big misunderstanding. For the goal is not that thoughts never come up that you do not want – but that you just manage to let those thoughts be, not to evaluate them and let them go again. And even after many years of practice, this is still a big challenge.

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