Seen as being a hippy pursuit in the west until the 1980s when it was then seen as a middle class faux exercise regime in which participants just sit around cross legged, yoga has undergone an image change of late as well as an upsurge in popularity.
However, despite the popularity that yoga is gaining there are still some misconceptions which persist among those who have never tried it.
So, what are the negative perceptions and presumptions which still dog yoga today?
Myth 1: You need to be fit to practice yoga
In reality, physical fitness has little to do with yoga. Postures are designed to pull and squeeze certain areas, a little like a massage. If you have a knot of tension in an area which a particular position stretches then that tension will be released and your range of movement will increase. If, on the other hand, you aren’t experiencing tension in that area the position will simply keep the area free from encroaching tension as well as creating stimulation and increased blood flow which is seen as important for healing and detoxing.
Myth 2: Yoga is a sport or martial art
Because yoga concentrates of physical positions, known among initiates as asanas, then some people think that yoga is a sport or pastime which is something like body building or Thai Chi. The fact is that yoga is a method of mediation, an art and science of physical, mental and spiritual development in which the physical is only one aspect of the developmental process of the whole being.
Myth 3: Yoga is part of a religion, it’s really just for Hindus and Buddhists
While being a spiritual practice like meditation, prayer and other devotional activities yoga in itself has nothing to do with any particular religion therefore people of any religion, or none at-all can engage in yoga without offending their own religion or the religious feelings of other yoga practitioners.
Myth 4: Yoga is just strenuous sitting or an hour long stretching session.
While the goal of stretching exercises such as lunges, straddles and other resistance regimes is to make the body more flexible yoga is designed to give greater awareness of the body. Practicing the asanas regularly develops from the sense of the stretch to the relationships between different areas of the body and the mind until each position has a certain meditative affect on the practitioner.
Myth 5: Yoga is for women
In many classes yoga appears to have more appeal for women than for men but this in no way means that yoga itself has any special properties which are more beneficial for women than men. Any-one looking for inner peace can find serenity and peace through practicing yoga.
Myth 6: Yoga is meant to be practiced in the morning
There is no rule which says that you can only practice yoga in the morning, however, whatever time of the day you choose to practice your asanas your stomach should be empty. Because the most convenient time for having an empty stomach is before breakfast the assumption was that the time of day was important rather then the cleanliness of the system.
Myth 7: It’s best to practice yoga outside
Quite the reverse, if you’re practicing yoga properly your body can become very sensitive to drafts and changes in temperature while you’re in an asana. It’s better to practice indoors so while fresh air is important it’s equally important to make sure there are no breezes blowing about the studio.
About the author: Dan Cash is a yoga holidays fan who also enjoys detox holidays and cruises. Because you don't have to be super fit to enjoy yoga it's a great way to start to get in shape, either as a stand alone or as a warm up.