Breaking 5 myths about Yoga
The ever-growing yoga community is truly wonderful. More and more people are getting interested in both physical asanas, but also in meditation, mindfulness and eastern philosophy.
Statistics display massive growth, estimating that the yoga (and Pilates) market will be worth 890 million British pounds in 2020!
This boost in popularity makes yoga a great topic for tv programs, newspaper articles or online magazines. It is simply selling well. Unfortunately for many people yoga is a product and they promote it like any other regular thing... not realizing that the way they construct their adverts or talk about yoga might, in fact, be very hurtful and damaging.
Big brands, online shops, endless Instagram accounts often present yoga as a gymnastic discipline for fit, young, middle/higher class females who have too much time on their hands. Isn’t it ironic that the origins of yoga are rooted in highly spiritual practices (even it's not religious)...? How did we manage to twist it so much?
Here are 5 of the most annoying, damaging, unfair myths about yoga I personally come across regularly.
- Yoga is for fit, young, wealthy females
Well... no. Yoga is for everybody. EVERY BODY. You don’t have to be size 6 with long shiny hair and practice yoga on a tropical beach to truly enjoy its benefits. In fact, I’m pretty much sure you will get more out of it if you practice yoga at home in your favorite PJ bottoms, truly opening your heart and paying attention to the practice... not concentrating on capturing the perfect shot.
- You need to be flexible to do yoga.
It’s pretty much the same as expecting to already know how to paint while attending a beginners class. It doesn’t make sense. We all start somewhere, and it really doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes. In yoga, we believe that struggle is a real teacher. Yoga is not an asana, yoga is the process of getting there, the practice itself. Gaining flexibility can be highly satisfying, especially if we practice with love towards ourselves and let our body open up in its own time.
- Yoga is about doing fancy poses.
I already touched this topic in point 2. Yoga is not the end result, yoga is the process. That’s why we say we “practice” not “performing” yoga right? There’s nothing bad in trying to get better and being able to do advanced asanas like binds, handstands or splits. In fact, it’s amazing, but don’t let this become your goal for practice. It will turn yoga into regular stretching and might make you feel like you are not enough, you need to do more, push yourself further or even feel competitive with other yogis you see at your local class or on Instagram. Yoga is by no means competition and the only one person you are trying to get better than is yourself
- If you start yoga, you need to “fit in”.
I’ll tell you a short story from my life. Some of you might remember I recently visited Paris with my family. During dinner at one of the restaurants, I had to go to the restroom. There was a large mirror and 3 sinks. Two of them were engaged - the ones at far right and far left. I started washing my hands in the middle sink and shortly glimpsed at the two other females on my right and left. The one on the right was dressed in ethnic style with a colorful top and had dreads. The one on the left had an oriental shawl wrapped over her upper body, she took out a bottle of what looked like a handmade blend of oils from her purse and started rubbing the oil in her face... they both were looking truly extraordinary and beautiful. And for a moment they made me feel really bad about myself. I was just a regular, boring girl in an oversized pink jumper and ugg boots. Nothing in my look says that I do yoga, follow a mindful, spiritual path, have knowledge about oils, herbs & plants and sync my life with moon phases. My anxious brain was like: “Should I be wearing crystal jewelry?”, “Maybe I should wear a top with a yoga-related slogan or peace symbol?”, “No one will treat me seriously in yoga world with my blond hair”. I simply felt I wasn’t enough and I was anxiously thinking about the things I need to change in my look to “fit in”.
The thing is that yoga has NOTHING to do with the way we dress and express ourselves through our clothes and accessories. It's totally fine if you want to dress in a certain way. Do it because that’s what you want, not to fit into a stereotype of a yoga girl. It won’t enhance your practice or bring you any closer to quieting your mind.
- Yoga is expensive
It’s a very important topic for me, especially since I run a shop with “yoga” in its name! So how it is not about money?
The most honest answer is that you don’t need ANYTHING to practice yoga except your own body. No need for expensive mats, leggings or smudge sticks. Yoga is so much more than just a set of asanas. Even a slow, mindful walk in the forest is a form of yoga!
Since we are living in first world countries (most of my readers comes from the UK, US, and Europe) we are privileged to have access to beautiful yoga accessories, yoga retreats in exotic parts of the world, we can afford all natural candles, essential oils and treat ourselves to body pampering products. There’s nothing bad in using or selling them, but I think it’s important to understand how lucky we are to live the way we live. Gratitude should become part of our lives. Many people in this world will never have access to or have enough funds to buy a 100£ yoga mat. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it - just remember to stay humble and grateful for the privilege of living in 1st world countries (especially we don't get to choose where we are born)
If at least one person will feel empowered to do yoga after reading this post - I will consider it as a big, personal success. I would love if you share your thoughts with me - write it below in the comments section