Yoga has been around for centuries, so you’d think people would know everything there is to know about it. This is not the case. Instead, yoga has been the subject of many myths. Some are silly, some are more serious.
The problem with rumors and myths is that false perspectives tend to get picked up and circulated around more quickly than the truth. Here are five popular yoga myths that have largely contributed to its representation in Western society:
Yoga is a Female Pastime
Walk into a yoga class and you’ll be hard pressed to find a male practitioner. It’s strange how yoga has come to be perceived as a female pastime when you consider its origins. It was first developed thousands of years ago by a selectively male group of priests and seers. It was not a feminine practice to begin with, and yet somehow it has now become immersed in the idea that only women practice yoga.
In fact, men are probably too embarrassed to admit that they practice it even if they do. It’s a shame that a technique that has rich masculine history is now assumed to be relegated to one gender.
Yoga is for Hipsters
Somewhere along the line, yoga because connected to frothy Starbucks coffee, man buns, and skinny jeans. Some people are hesitant to do yoga because they buy into the myth that it’s only for ‘cool’ people who talk about things like global warming and spiritual energy. Stereotypes aside, yoga is for anyone. It is simply a series of moves and postures that improve physical and emotional wellbeing.
Yoga is Religious at its Core
It is true that yoga is concerned with honing the mind and spiritual aspect of humanity, but this is often distorted. Yoga is not a religion. You can be a member of any religion and practice yoga. The confusion here probably stems from the fact that it is more than just a method of exercise. Yoga is something of a way of life. Mindfulness, tranquility, and peace of mind are all western philosophies that owe a debt to yoga.
The idea behind the practice is to clear your mind, learn how to live fully in and be appreciative of the present moment (mindfulness), and declutter the soul from all of its emotional baggage including anger, resentment, and jealousy.
When considered in this light, it’s not surprising that this myth exists. What is religion except a way of improving ourselves? The only difference between yoga and traditional religions such as Christianity in this respect is that self-improvement is not done to gain the approval of a higher power; it is just done to improve your journey through life.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist, agnostic, Christian, or Muslim: anyone can practice yoga and still remain faithful to their own religion.
You Need to Be Flexible to Even Begin
The myth that yoga requires flexibility is one that keeps many a potential yoga master away from the practice. For some reason, there is this idea that anyone who does yoga started off as an Olympics gymnast, and not a couch potato like the rest of us.
However, it’s time to do away with this myth. Yoga is like any other sport, exercise, or fitness technique. When you start it you can only do the most basic moves, and even those are clumsy and need to be practiced regularly.
The more you do it, the better you get. However, no one ever notices their own gradual improvement to nearly the same extent someone else does. You might think you’re not embarrassingly bad at it anymore, but it takes an onlooker to give you more accurate information about your progress.
You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. You just start it, fall over and embarrass yourself a few times, and stick at it. Then, in a few years, you’ll be the one who the beginners gaze in awe at.
There’s Only One Type of Yoga
Finally, there isn’t only one type of yoga. Yoga styles, positions, preferences, and techniques all differ from teacher to teacher. The best way of finding one you like is to try a few out and see which suits you best.
Even if you’re simply not into yoga, and don’t think you ever will be, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some of the benefits using another method. Office massages are when companies offer their employees a relaxing massage at corporate events. Workplace environments are stressful environments, and people working there can suffer from a host of complaints including stress and back pain.
Office massages are a great idea. They’re quick and convenient because instead of having to strip down you just sit in the chair and pamper yourself!