When you think of Yoga what comes to mind? Super difficult poses, being vegetarian, or perhaps walking around in a state of Zen all day everyday? If so, then perhaps your perception of Yoga is a bit skewed. I don’t blame you because that is what has always been portrayed. This perception has long been associated with yoga and I'm going to dispel some of those myths.
Myth 1: I’m not flexible
Truth: Yoga will improve your flexibility, along with your strength, balance and overall health, but in order to get more flexible you have to start somewhere. Flexibility comes over time. With a regular yoga practice you will discover not only increased flexibility, but greater mobility and more strength as well.
Myth 2: I have to have equipment and yoga clothes to get started
Truth: There’s no special equipment that you have to have to start practicing yoga. If you don’t have a yoga mat, don’t worry, you can use a big towel or even a blanket. So what if you don’t have “yoga clothes”; wear what you have so long as it’s loose fitting so you’re able to move through an entire practice freely. Don’t let the “lack-of” prevent you from beginning yoga.
Myth 3: Yoga is for women
Truth: Not true! Yoga was originally practiced by men in India thousands of years ago. Some of the best known and most respected yoga teachers around the world have been men.
Myth 4: I have to be thin to practice yoga
Truth: All people- tall, short, fat or thin are able to practice yoga. As with flexibility, you practice what you are physically able to do. Yoga can help a practitioner lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle but no matter what body type, different styles of yoga are available for everyone to receive the benefits.
Myth 5: I’m too old for yoga
Truth: You can do yoga at any age. Yoga is a great way for people to maintain their health and wellness as they age. There is no age limit of when you can begin or end. There are a variety yoga classes, apps, and DVD’s available for children, seniors, and everybody in between.
Myth 6: Yoga is not a real workout
Truth: There are many high impact workouts that provide fast results but are also hard on the body. You can't do yoga without understanding your body and your limitations. This is not the case for many other forms of exercise which promote rote repetition. Depending on the style of yoga, it can be particularly intense for beginners and advanced practitioners as yoga practice asks for overall body strength. With the various styles of yoga, you’re sure to find one that provides you with a “workout”.
Myth 7: I have to be a vegetarian or vegan to practice yoga
Truth: There is a notion that in order to practice yoga you cannot eat meat and must become a vegetarian. This is not true. Although there are tremendous health benefits to being vegetarian or vegan, there is no requirement of vegetarianism in order to practice yoga.
Myth 8: I don’t have enough time for yoga
Truth: You can practice yoga for just 15-20 minutes a day. You don't need to commit to an hour or two of yoga to reap the benefits. You can practice Sun Salutations for a few rounds several days a week. Yoga is flexible. Yoga can be made to fit your body, your life, and your time constraints. A little yoga is better than none at all.
Myth 9: Yoga is a religion
Truth: Yoga is actually a science. It is a time tested science with the goal of revealing the true nature of reality. Although yoga has been practiced for thousands of years in India by Hindus, yoga in and of itself is not a religion. Yoga is a practice, it is a step by step process with the end goal of calming down the thought waves in our mind and about being in the Here and Now. A yoga studio or instructor may share readings to students; however there is no pressure to follow a particular belief system.
Myth 10: All Yogi’s reach Enlightenment
Truth: There is a feeling of serenity that takes over once a yoga practice is over. How can one not feel calmer after resting in Savasana for 10 minutes or longer? Meditation and a consistent yoga practice can change a yogi’s way of thinking, but enlightenment is very rare. Having brief moments of bliss is what one should work towards as a starting place with a yoga practice. We have all had moments of bliss and this can be possible, but it takes a great deal of dedication and hard work.
One of the essential things about yoga, together with the positive attitude, is the diet. It is usually recommended to practice yoga after about 2 hours from a meal, or to eat something small prior to practice. Many specialists agree that what we eat is reflected both in our appearance, as well as in our health state. In other words, it is important to know the things we consume, in order to prevent illnesses.
However, the question remains what does healthy food mean? According to some studies, a diversified diet represents the ideal food for anyone. However, fruits and vegetables, containing fibers and vitamins should be a constant in your daily meals. Furthermore, only what would be considered natural food is recommended, when it comes to your state of well-being.
Despite the fact that many people try to eat as little as possible, as they believe most food can be harmful, you have to keep in mind that your body needs nutrients, in order to properly function. Nevertheless, do not overreact when eating, even if you are consuming healthy food, because it will not have the same beneficial effect on you. Try to stop eating once you are not hungry or, even better, stop right before you feel full. You will discover the fatigue, which you used to experience after eating, diminishes, while your energy level rises.
Another issue related to eating is how often should a healthy person eat? Should we have 3 meals a day? Should we avoid dinner, to prevent becoming overweight, because we do not move at night? Or is it better to skip lunch, so that you don’t experience fatigue? Well, the right answer to these questions would be to eat whenever you are hungry, as your body needs to be fed in order to function, but, do pay attention to what and how much you are eating.
More than an energy source, food can be a means of purifying one's body and soul, which is why, together with the variety of exercises, yoga teachers encourage their practitioners to keep a wise diet, based on natural food. This way, their body is protected from the danger of contracting toxins and it is prepared, at the same time, to find the balance with the soul and mind, which is actually one of the main goals of yoga practices.
Finally, when consistently practicing yoga it is important to meditate both on what you are doing to your own body, as a direct consequence of the food you are eating, and to what level you respond to your soul's and mind's needs.
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