When most people think of yoga, they get images of the Himalayas, incense, chanting and mystical gurus from India sitting in their caves or on the floor, cross legged and chanting OM in a deep ecstatic state of relaxation. Though Yoga has become a widespread practice during the last 30 years, misconceptions about this ancient method have kept people away from trying yoga or have created more and more confusion.
Here are some of the common Myths that I have heard of from across the world:
1. Yoga is a form of Physical Exercise:
This is perhaps the most common view of yoga, that it is a form of physical exercise. Yoga has classically been a spiritual practice, but nowadays yoga is better known as a sport or physical exercise because of its evident physical benefits and appeal.
2. You have to be initiated by a Guru:
In the initial stages, any teacher who can take you through yoga practice sincerely and safely is your Guru. For a keen spiritual seeker, anything and everything can become a Guru till the Master comes and then everything is dropped.
3. You have to be flexible to do Yoga:
Yoga improves your flexibility, along with your strength, balance and all aspects of your health. Any one can practice yoga to gain these. It will improve your flexibility from the point from where you begin. Yoga is designed to be practiced by all.
4. You must be vegetarian to practice Yoga:
This is not true. There are tremendous benefits of being vegetarian on our psyche and physical body but it is not a requirement in order to practice yoga.
5. Yoga is mainly for wimps or women:
Yoga is for those who are conscious and are making efforts towards self-evolution through working on their body and mind. In that sense its for everyone, men and women alike.
6. My style of Yoga is the only authentic style:
The needs of individuals vary according to their physical structures and capabilities, therefore it is best to start with a yoga practice that is suited to your own individual needs. It is best to find a teacher who is able to prescribe the postures that are best suited to your particular needs. Yoga is fluid, don’t let yoga fanaticism limit your explorations. If you practice yoga diligently and with a proper understanding of its holistic nature, you will surely realize great benefits in all spheres of life including physical and spiritual.
7. Yoga is boring:
It is interesting and beautiful to watch the workings of your own mind, breath and body. Taking the awareness deeper into the body and mind through the practice of yoga and meditation is very interesting especially when you start making more discoveries about yourself and then use this wisdom to generate peace in your life. Thus, yoga is a way of life, and Life is interesting.
8. Yoga is just a passing fad:
The first evidence of yogic texts goes back 5000 years, though physical asanas and other new disciplines have sprung up within the last fifty years. Yoga, in its spiritual aims and techniques, has always been a part of Indian culture and lifestyle.