It’s easy to develop and believe misconceptions about Yoga. It has grown so diverse that understanding it through a single lens would be impossible.
This article addresses some of the most common misconceptions. We’ll go over what Yoga really is as an exercise, and as a way of life. You might even discover the missing piece to your daily routine in the process.
What they might tell you about Yoga
Chances are, you’ve already heard some of these misconceptions before. And you could be missing out by believing them.
Yoga is just another passing fad
Yoga has been around for about 5,000 years. Its origins are believed to stem from prehistoric practices, even. The reason behind its longevity is its relevance to core human needs.
That said, the modern world’s appreciation for Yoga isn’t unfounded. This practice was born out of the need to understand one’s self. And its following continues to grow steadily as more people discover its benefits.
Yoga is only for the young and fit
The thought of certain Yoga poses can overwhelm some people. Truth is, there are Yoga routines that exist for every age and fitness level. You can always choose a routine for your own purposes. And rather than break your back, it’s supposed to feel good.
Yoga is great for improving flexibility and strength. While the poses are designed to train and strengthen your body, its main goal is to improve your physical and mental state.
Yoga is not for men
There might be at least two reasons behind this impression. Women have a lower center of gravity and greater flexibility over men. Some popular yoga poses require such control and flexibility, hence the association.
Some Yoga poses can also be anatomically inaccessible for males. But that doesn’t mean they’re completely off-limits. There are always variations that provide the same effect.
The Yoga community has a wealth of male instructors. They often demonstrate alternatives that better suit the male body. They can even change this perception for good.
Yoga is not a real workout
Yoga often looks calm, but it’s tough. Many exercises are stationary, but there’s power in their stillness. Holding these poses require strength and balance. It builds physical endurance and muscle awareness.
A good indicator of exercise intensity is VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake). It determines your upper cardiovascular limit, and increases when fitness improves. Research finds that even gentle Yoga can benefit young adults with a 7% increase in VO2 after 8 weeks.
Some Yoga styles can also count as cardio. We’ll get to these interesting routines in debunking the next myth.
Yoga gets boring
Just like any other workout routine, it can and will. But only if you’re unwilling to change things up. In the last 200 years alone, countless styles have been developed to suit different needs and interests.
Each has its own rules and benefits. Some are calm and gentle, like Hatha Yoga. Some are even considered cardio like Bikram Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. Bikram incorporates a heated room, while Ashtanga is notoriously fast-paced.
Moreover, Yoga is flexible enough to play different roles in your life. You might use it as a quick wake-up routine at first. It can evolve into warm-ups, cool-downs, or even main workouts.
Harder poses are always better
This ties to why people think Yoga is either too hard, or not challenging at all. Before we aim for the Instagrammable poses, let’s take the patient route and shift perspectives.
Not all styles and postures are suitable for everyone. Jumping right into an intense routine might do more harm than good. You should at least gauge your needs and fitness level first.
“Better” is also subjective. Some Yoga routines are more focused on mental clarity and physiological balance. These are equally important for your health as strength-building. There are many scenarios where the calmness of a Child’s Pose is your best friend.
Yoga is time-consuming
Some Yoga classes boast 60 to 90 minutes of well-rounded routines. That can count as a vigorous workout. But you don’t need to spend this much time to still get benefits.
You can break apart an hour’s worth of Yoga between morning and evening. For quick energy boosts and stress relief, 10 to 15 minutes will suffice. Yoga routines come in various lengths and they’re all helpful when done correctly.
Yoga is just physical exercise
Yoga originally referred to an encompassing spiritual practice. This involves philosophy, lifestyle, exercise, and other physical habits.
Anybody can incorporate Yoga into many aspects of personal improvement. This could be through service, compassion, wisdom and intellect, and relationships. Exercise is only one aspect, but it’s all connected to the others.
This is also why you can’t simply walk into teaching Yoga. Qualifying as a modern Yoga instructor also requires learning its way of life. This allows them to teach its principles with the right purpose and attitude.
Yoga is religious
Having originated in India, Yoga has been associated with religions like Hinduism. It even shares some practices with Hinduism and Buddhism, further adding to the confusion.
There are certainly spiritual and philosophical aspects to Yoga. However, its teachings don’t emphasize worship of higher beings. Everybody is welcome to practice Yoga. And it’s certainly not a new religion you need to join.
Yoga demands a lifestyle change
Yes, it can be a whole new life. It does take commitment and hard work to feel its benefits. But it gives more than it takes.
It won’t be a binding chain. It will be a key to help you unlock other aspects of your wellness. A single routine can recover damaged muscles, improve your fitness, and regulate bodily functions. It can fit in any part of your existing lifestyle and improve it instantly.
Massages to compliment your Yoga routine
Photo by Hydragun
However you practice Yoga, it always pairs well with a massage. Got any soreness after hard posture holds? A good deep tissue massage gun can help you recover. It can also incorporate well with routines geared towards recovery itself.
Duration: 30 seconds for each muscle group.
What to do: “Float” the massage gun on your target muscle groups to help break up muscle tension. Start on the lower settings first and increase speed, depending on your fitness level.
Yoga has always been relevant for a reason. It just works. It’s built around what’s fundamental to our wellness, and it evolves with the times.
It’s also a generous practice. It lends anything from a short stretch to an entirely new lifestyle. You don’t need to fit a certain mould for it, either. It’s holistic as a discipline and highly inclusive as an exercise.
Carlos Mindanao is an SEO Content Writer at HYDRAGUN, a Singapore-based tech startup. He writes about sports recovery, workouts, peak performance, and overall wellness.