Common Misconceptions About Yoga

Maybe you are thinking of starting yoga but are too intimidated to try it. I promise, though, there’s nothing to be afraid of! It may seem different because it is not just cardio or strength training. It is also restorative, which is the part people get nervous about. However, you’ll find it similar to most other fitness programs in that you can modify poses to fit your skill level and classes go by how much experience you have. So no worries!

You don’t actually have to be super flexible to try yoga. It will help with your flexibility, absolutely, but it is not really a requirement at the start. There are all kinds of equipment to help you get into poses if you need it – there are straps and blocks and bolsters and blankets. And you never have to force yourself into a pose that’s too difficult, so it is fine. Most studios will provide the props, and most will even have yoga mats you can borrow if you aren’t ready to get your own mat.

Another thing people firmly believe is that yoga is one of those things you need to take very seriously. That’s not true either! Yoga can actually be a lot of fun. It depends on the instructor and the class. Some places have animals. Other places play cool music. Some places do yoga with partners or kids, where there are different couple poses or you make animal sounds to go with the different poses. Others do yoga on beaches or other interesting places. So yoga can be fun!

You also don’t need expensive yoga clothes to take a class. It is best to wear things that are comfortable and allow for movement. My studio recommends dressing in layers so you can take things off as you get warmed up. Sometimes people wear shorts or sweatpants, some people wear tank tops or athletic shirts. Basically, it is as varied as what you see at any other class in the gym.

Yoga is definitely not all incense and “om” and Tibetan singing bowls and chiming bells. Your yoga instructor is going to be a normal person, not some kind of rubber band with hair that expects you to put your feet over your head or balance on one hand. All the instructors I’ve ever had have been really approachable and helpful. They’ve been enthusiastic and always willing to show me modifications and offer encouragement.

Let me tell you what yoga IS about: it is about centering yourself, about listening to your body and stretching and breathing. It is about learning things about yourself and finding stillness and strength in the poses. Yoga is not about doing the poses perfectly but accepting the imperfectness of yourself. There is a reason why we call it a yoga practice. No matter how much you practice it and how much you learn, or how good you are at the poses, there is always room to learn and improve!