Be Well

True or False: Yoga is Hard and Scary


By Jim Readey.

Continuation of article from the March 2016 Natural Buzz Newsletter.

Myth #2. Yoga is difficult to do

False. People might make yoga hard to do because, well, that’s what people do. If you have a good teacher, you’ll learn to practice yoga effortlessly (rather than from ego-driven fear)…and with just slight discomfort, as mentioned in Mythbuster #7.

Myth #3. You have to be really flexible to do yoga.

False. This is backwards thinking — yoga helps us become more flexible (physically… as well as emotionally and intellectually). There are absolutely no prerequisites for yoga – everyone can do it! Gentlemen, are you listening?

Myth #4. To do yoga, you need a mat, candle, and expensive yoga clothing.

False. Yoga can be done anywhere, anytime (with or without fire or clothing of any kind!).

Myth #5. Yoga is a religion.

False: This is kind of like saying eating organic food is a religion – or that sleeping is. All three can significantly support your health regardless of what religion you happen to follow. Yoga’s origins actually pre-date what we think of as religious – it’s been around about 5000 or 10,000 years. While yoga has been used by many religious practitioners for millennia, it is not itself a religion. (Why the confusion? The original yoga practitioners lived in the part of the world where India is now situated, and India’s religions – Hindu and Buddhism, in particular – have influenced the way Indians practice yoga. Some American teachers have then imported these Eastern influences along with yoga; others of us prefer to adapt yoga more to our Western culture. Hence, we find yoga in libraries, health clubs, and TV studios!)

Myth #6. You have to have a guru to truly do yoga.

False. When properly taught, yoga helps us tap into our inner wisdom. Good teachers can help us immensely, but the best teachers will inspire us to find our own answers. Although there are plenty of wise and heart-centered teachers out there, you probably want to beware of anyone calling themselves a guru — they may or may not have your best interest at heart. (In any case, it’s best not to give over your personal power to another being. That’s called co-dependence, and is absolutely not part of yoga.)

Myth #7. The right way to do yoga is to perfect the postures (and then your life will be complete, and you will live happily ever after).

False. Forget the photos on the cover of Yoga Journal…there is no perfect way to do a posture. Yoga postures are meant to serve us, but too many students get it backwards and think we’re meant to serve the postures! They’re trying too hard! We come in all shapes and sizes, and many of us have old injuries, health conditions, and other physical imbalances. The absolute best way to do a posture is at your individual “edge” – where you are both comfortable, and a little uncomfortable, at the same time. This edge is where growth and healing happen, with minimal risk of injury or setbacks. Remember that saying, “No pain, no gain”…? Well, forget that, too. I recommend this mantra, instead: “No pain … period.”

Myth #8. Taking a yoga class automatically makes you better, wiser, and more spiritual than anyone who doesn’t do yoga.

False. Some students certainly act that way. Yoga classes provide tools for healing and growth on the physical and spiritual levels – but you’ve got to use the tools, and practice them, in order to grow. (And if you’re spending significant time thinking you’re better than others, practice even more – your ego may still need some work!)

Myth #9. Yoga is a semisolid sour-ish food made from milk fermented by added bacteria.

False. No…that’s yogurt.