Yoga is the gift that India has given to the world. The ancient discipline of Yoga that originated centuries ago has now touched many lives worldwide. A mysterious aura has always surrounded the origin and teachings of Yoga. Historians and scholars have unearthed ample literature on Yoga that is authentic and informative. As we know them today, the teachings of Yoga are a beautiful blend of ancient knowledge and modern-day modifications.
However, owing to the considerable period that has passed since the inception of Yoga, certain yoga myths and wrong ideas have surrounded Yoga.
1. Yoga Is Not Suitable For Weight Loss
It is a common misconception that Yoga does not particularly help lose weight. Yoga asanas are performed at a slow to moderate pace, unlike the typical gym workout. People believe that only a specific workout regimen will help you burn extra calories and extra flab. Indeed, Yoga may not be as effective in losing weight as an intense cardio workout. But that does not discredit the capacity of Yoga in stimulating and maintaining healthy weight loss. With exemplary dedication and proper professional guidance, Yoga can help you achieve healthy weight loss and maintain an ideal range of weight.
2. Yoga Is Only For People Of Certain Religions
Yoga is very closely related to the teachings of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Several scriptures of both religions encourage the practice of Yoga. However, no books or scriptures mention that only followers of a particular religion may practice Yoga. Yoga is a lifestyle and not a religious or traditional ritual. Yoga does not distinguish based on religion, caste, race, or gender; it is inclusive. There is only one eligibility criterion to become a Yoga student: genuine dedication toward the art and techniques of Yoga.
3. Yoga Focuses On Physical Exercise Only
When you say ‘Yoga,’ you think of many people bending their bodies into various Yoga postures in an exercise studio. Nowadays, the utility of Yoga is highly limited to its benefits in maintaining a healthy and fit physique. Yoga is a lot more than just physical fitness. The teachings of Yoga encompass the importance of a healthy mind and soul. Ancient literature on Yoga teaches how to improve the overall quality of your life with various Yoga practices. Meditation and breathing exercises are an integral part of Yoga, enhancing one’s mental health. A revered Indian sage by the name of Patanjali taught the concept of Ashtanga Yoga (eight limbs of Yoga). Each of the eight limbs of Yoga covered various principles of Yoga, including righteous behavior, the importance of healthy eating, good morals, and the importance of mental health, to name a few.
4. Want to try Yoga? Learn Sanskrit
Yoga has been a part of Indian culture for several centuries. The concept of Yoga took birth in India during the era of civilization itself. Over the years, many scholars studied and shared their theories on Yoga with the world. Since Sanskrit was the most prominent language in India in the ancient era, most of the literature on Yoga is available in that language. The teachings of Yoga have been translated into various languages for the benefit of the global audience. There are books, instructional videos, training courses available on numerous Yoga topics in over a dozen international languages. You can find information on Yoga on several online platforms in the language of your choice.
5. People Who Are Overweight Cannot Perform Yoga
Social media doles out countless picture-perfect images of a slender man or woman twisting their body in some Yoga pose with the most scenic mountain ranges seen in the backdrop. This has led to the unnecessary and wrong belief that one has to have an hourglass figure and washboard abs to perform Yoga. Yoga is for everyone who wishes to enjoy healthier living. The only weight that prevents you from performing Yoga is your doubt about your ability to practice Yoga.
6. You Need Acrobatic Skills To Practice Yoga
Do not rely on social media posts with models displaying unreal body flexibility while performing Yoga. Yes, it is true that some Yoga postures are more complicated than others and require a certain level of agility of your body. But there are as many Yoga asanas that one can perform as a beginner. You can easily practice Yoga regularly without having the skills of a professional gymnast. Yoga postures focus on stretching and toning muscles, making the body’s joints supple, and developing a fit physique. You will notice an increase in your body flexibility once you practice Yoga regularly, but that is not its only aim.
7. Yoga Is Contraindicated During Pregnancy
Many ideologies and cultures insist on treating pregnant women like a delicate glass artifact that would shatter if slightly disturbed. It is a deep-rooted myth among many minds that pregnant women should not indulge in any form of physical exercise. However, doctors encourage women to take up some form of regular exercise during their pregnancy that would be harmless to the growing fetus and the mother. Several Yoga postures are helpful at different stages of the pregnancy. Apart from Yoga postures, pregnant women are also encouraged to partake in meditation which is an integral part of the Indian culture of Garbha Sanskar (Inculcating good values and practices into the mind of the unborn child). Pregnant women are strictly forbidden from practicing Yoga without the supervision of a certified trainer.
8. Yoga Is For Youngsters Only
If you follow online posts on Yoga, you will notice that most of the images used show young men and women performing various Yoga asanas in a perfectly poised manner. There is also a wrong notion that people commonly believe, that only young people can perform Yoga. However, Yoga is for everyone, and its practice is independent of the person’s age. Older and aged people can practice Yoga too. Various Yoga postures are helpful to keep various disorders at bay that the elderly frequently encounter. As long as your physician sees no harm in it, you can perform Yoga irrespective of your age.
9. Yoga Is All About Balance
Yoga poses are elegant, and people look great when they pose perfectly in various Yoga asanas. The teachings of Yoga advocate the importance of balancing your body well while performing yoga postures. But balancing your entire body weight on one foot while you twist your body like a rubber band is not something Yoga insists on. Dedication and months of practicing Yoga will eventually help you balance your body perfectly in every asana. But always bear in mind that the purpose of Yoga postures is a lot more than only balance. Yoga postures emphasize physical fitness and rejuvenating the body more than any other aspect of physical health.
10. Yoga Helps To Cure All Illnesses
Yoga has proved its efficacy time and again in curbing a hoard of physical and mental health disorders. This has led to a misconception that Yoga can cure any and every condition. Yoga certainly has a positive effect on maintaining harmonious functions between the various body systems. But Yoga cannot replace mainstream medical or surgical treatment for any health condition. Several disorders lead to gross structural anomalies within the body. Unfortunately, Yoga is not very effective in helping to cure such ailments.
11. Unwell People Cannot Perform Yoga.
The most friendly advice you will get when you are unwell is that you need to rest more, and rightfully so. It is not advisable to perform Yoga when you are down with an acute bout of any illness. However, people with chronic diseases can easily participate in Yoga classes, provided they are medically cleared for the same. Yoga works wonders in enhancing the healing process of several systemic disorders, including digestive disorders, orthopedic disorders, hormonal disorders, lung disorders, and cardiac disorders. As long as your doctor and Yoga trainer do not object to it, you can perform Yoga postures even if you suffer from a chronic health condition.
12. Yogis Lead A Life Of Spiritual And Discipline Only
In the ancient era, Yogi was a term used to refer to yoga and meditation practitioners. They led a life of strict adherence to spirituality and followed various moral and ethical restrictions. Yogis were pious individuals with significant mental and spiritual capacity. The term ‘Yogi’ does not find its true meaning among today’s progressive generation. The lifestyle and modern ideology prevalent among most people do not allow them to lead the life Yogis led in the past. But that is no reason not to be able to practice Yoga. You can still be a Yoga student and follow its teachings, even if you cannot adhere to every one of its ancient principles.
13. Yoga Focuses Only On Stretching The Body
Yoga is a discipline of life that encompasses several essential physicals, mental, and spiritual health aspects. Asana is a part of Ashtanga Yoga, as Sage Patanjali has described in his ancient works “The Yoga Sutra.”
Appropriate stretching of the body is essential while practicing Yoga, but it is not the only area of focus of Yoga postures. While performing Yoga postures, one must lay equal emphasis on stretching, balancing, and toning their body, among other essential factors.
14. You Need To Practice Yoga At the Crack Of The Dawn
Another Yoga myth that the masses have propagated through the ages is that people must practice Yoga only at the crack of dawn. The origin of this myth is likely to be the impartial knowledge that people have of the ancient literature of Yoga. People routinely began their day very early before the Sun rose in the bygone era. Indulging in a healthy session of Yoga and meditation was a great way to kickstart the day, and therefore people usually practiced Yoga very early in the morning. Several ancient scriptures on Yoga advocate the benefits of practicing Yoga before or around sunrise. The reason behind it is that the mind and body are known to be the most receptive to the positive changes that Yoga brings during these hours. However, it is not mandatory to perform Yoga only at dawn.
15. Yoga Is Complicated
Yoga is not an exercise technique but a way of living that helps to nourish your body, mind, and spirit alike. The principles and teachings of Yoga emphasize the intricate but often neglected details of human life. Yoga is the easiest and most effective way to rejuvenate your entire being with proper dedication and effort. People rely on half-baked knowledge and novel ideology about Yoga which is not always correct. Many confusing theories that have developed give the wrong impression that Yoga is a complicated subject.
16. Avoid Yoga During Menses
In several cultures and communities, several erroneous ideas exist on menstruation to this date. One such theory is that women must avoid exercise when they are on their period. Women may experience physical fatigue or feel tired during their period, and therefore it is advisable to avoid an exertional physical workout. However, a light session of Yoga will do you no harm. The abdominal and pelvic muscles, which may develop soreness during menses, will benefit from the Yoga stretches. Consult with a certified trainer to know about the benefits of a healthy Yoga session during menses.
17. Yoga Soothes An Agitated Mind Instantly
Yoga has garnered immense popularity for its contribution to promoting and sustaining mental wellness. More people are reverting to the ancient teachings of Yoga and meditation to find relaxation and mental peace. Yoga and meditation are soothing balms that will heal your mental disturbances over some time. There is no instant relief from depression, anxiety, anger, or mood swings. It would help if you were devoted and patient towards your Yoga and meditation sessions to experience their full benefits. The positive effects of Yoga on soothing an agitated mind are unquestionable. However, a single session of meditation or merely an hour of Yoga will not help to lighten your mental burden.
18. Yoga Requires You To Undergo A Personality Makeover
Ancient beliefs that govern the practice of Yoga are valid even now, centuries after the birth of Yoga. We have discussed earlier the eight limbs of Yoga that Sage Patanjali has described. Some of these eight limbs promote the importance of morals and ethical values. The discipline of Yoga suggests that people have a righteous attitude and self-control to prevent misbehavior at any level. In the olden days, Yogic principles had become embedded into people’s lives to a far greater extent than today. While it is essential to abide by the regulations of Yoga, one does not have to alter their personality ultimately to be a dedicated student of Yoga.
19. Yoga Once Learnt, Makes You A Yoga Master
Learned men, sages, hermits, and scholars spent years before they could master every aspect of Yoga. Taking a yoga class or reading a book on Yoga does not make you a Yoga scholar. One needs to devote themselves to the practice of Yoga to grasp all the principles, techniques, and teachings of Yoga. Yoga was such an integral part of people’s day-to-day lives in ancient times that it became embedded into the cultural practices of that era. To absorb the pieces of an entire cultural practice requires patience and a dedicated approach.
20. Anyone Can Perform Yoga
While it is true that the principles of Yoga are all-inclusive and do not discriminate, people need to think twice before taking a Yoga class. Yoga may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions or disabilities. This statement is in no way intended to promote discrimination, but it is for the welfare of those who may end up having health issues or injuries if they perform Yoga. Consult with your physician or a certified Yoga trainer to know if you are a suitable candidate for a Yoga class. Yoga is often contraindicated if you suffer from certain vascular disorders, heart conditions, specific joint disorders, and neurological diseases.
21. Yoga Is A Mainstream Treatment For Health Disorders
Yoga’s role in curbing health disorders and treating them is unquestionable. However, Yoga is not a mainstream treatment for any health condition. If you require medical or surgical intervention, you cannot swap those treatments for Yoga. Yoga is complementary to the mainstream treatment that the patients receive for their illnesses.
22. Yoga Is A Fashion Statement
Yoga has been around for a couple of centuries since its birth in India. However, it is only recently that Yoga has captured the attention of a global audience. Today Yoga has crossed international borders and has reached the homes of millions of people. Yoga’s popularity and fan following is its sheer ability to transform a person’s life by touching several aspects of their health. People look at Yoga with great regard, not because it is trendy, but because It has genuinely helped them reorganize and improve their lives. The claim that Yoga is a fashion statement is one of the most commonly believed Yoga myths by those who have not seen the magic of Yoga.
23. Yoga Is Not Exhaustive, So It Is Not Real Exercise
Indeed, Yoga does not help burn as many calories as an exertive HIIT or cardio workout will. But this statement can not undermine the positive effects that Yoga has on the human body. Yoga is one of the ideal physical exercise forms that help stretch and strengthen your muscles. Dedicated Yoga practice also helps to lose excess weight and maintain an ideal B.M.I. You can get toned legs and a sculpted body if you put in all your efforts during your Yoga class.
24. Yoga Is Only For Indians
India is the birthplace of Yoga. Archeological research believes that the idea of Yoga began developing in the era of civilization itself. In the ancient period, only Indians practiced the teachings of Yoga as it was difficult to spread the culture and knowledge about your country elsewhere. The practice of Yoga is not restricted to the people of a particular nationality, religion, or caste; it is all-inclusive.
25. Convert to Vegetarianism To Practise Yoga
Like most myths surrounding Yoga, this one also stems from people’s half-baked knowledge about Yoga. There are several books written on the discipline of Yoga that also covers several aspects regarding one’s diet. Many of these books shed light on the positive effects of a vegetarian diet devoid of meat and alcohol on one’s spiritual development. But none of these books have staunchly opposed the consumption of non-vegetarian meals. No rule states that one has to give up meat, eggs, or alcohol to become a Yoga student.
26. Load Your Yoga Room With Incense Sticks
Western movies and television shows have never shied away from showing their characters to be ardent fans of Yoga. It is not rare to get glimpses on the television of a Yoga or meditation class conducted in a dimly lit room scented with numerous incense sticks. There is nothing more to it than mere fiction. Incense sticks have a fascinating fragrance, and one may use them during Yoga, but they have no obligation to do so.
27. Chant Om During Your Yoga Session
If westerners are fond of any specific aspects of Indian culture, it is uttering the word Om randomly. There is a wrongful idea that people may chant Om repeatedly as they practice Yoga. Om is one of the most powerful chants one can use during meditation. Chanting Om has a profound positive effect on your physical, mental, and spiritual health, but only if done correctly. You may learn how to chant Om appropriately under the guidance of a certified Yoga trainer.
28. Yoga = Hippy
Over the years, a certain hippy undertone has been associated with Yoga. When the western world adapted Yoga initially, its teachings were embraced only partially. People focused on twisting their bodies into complex so-called ‘Yoga’ postures and on what they believed to be meditation. This partially successful attempt at embracing Yoga coupled with the eccentric clothing style prevalent a few decades ago gave an impression that Yoga is closely related to a hippy lifestyle. People from all walks of life perform Yoga with equal dedication, irrespective of the culture they represent.
29. Free Your Calendar, Yoga Is Here
Many people perceive Yoga as a complicated art that one can understand only with extreme precision and focus. Therefore, it has become a common belief that Yoga is a time-consuming practice. It takes dedication and regular practice to understand the teachings of Yoga, but there are no complexities about it. One can even get great results by performing Yoga for as little as 15-20 minutes daily.
30. Meditation Includes Religious Prayers
Meditation and Yoga are the two sides of one coin; one is incomplete without the other. You will often learn the techniques of meditation in your Yoga class. People usually prefer to chant incantations or prayers as they meditate, known as mantras. The mantras could be spiritual words that are powerful enough to invoke your inner powers, or they could be a repetition of a particular goal that you have set for yourself. A mantra is absolutely anything that motivates you to stay focused and never give up. Meditation does not necessarily have to include religious prayers, but those who wish to may repeat holy chants as they meditate.
Several Yoga myths have enveloped the concept of Yoga, one crazier than the other. These Yoga myths have hidden the actual image and intentions of the most beautiful discipline of life to have ever existed; Yoga. If you have signed up for a Yoga class or are a new Yoga student, make sure that you get your facts straight before taking the plunge.
Do not believe in any gossip about Yoga, and stick to the teachings of a certified Yoga trainer only.
If you have been a yoga practitioner, take up the mantle of protecting this ancient art of holistic living, and prevent the spread of wrong Yoga myths about it.