We yoga teachers hear one of these three things almost every single time our profession comes up in casual conversation:
A) "I could never do yoga I'm not flexible at ALL!"
B) "I'm way to intimidated to go to a yoga class."
C) "I need real exercise not just stretching."
So let's tackle these silly misconceptions one at the time, shall we? And if at the end, you still don't want to try yoga, no worries. But I hope you will.
Ok so you're not flexible. You can't touch your toes and your shoulders are so tight you can barely reach around to the backseat of your car to swat at your kids. So clearly whatever you're doing (or not doing) isn't helping, so hmmmm...wonder what could make you more flexible? Yup. You saw that coming.
No one starts yoga with total openness and mobility except for children, and sometimes not even then. We all started somewhere. You're not supposed to dominate yoga. It's not something you win. You work at it; that's why it's called a "practice." Even the most pretzel-y yogi is working on something. Wherever you are is your starting point. With a qualified teacher, you will *gently* push yourself a bit at the time, and incrementally you'll see improvement. It's not instant gratification, and that's a hard sell these days. But the fun and the challenge is in the practice, the journey. And yours is unique to you; no one else is getting on their mat with the exact same body, abilities, hang ups, and attitude that you have. Embrace it.
Which brings me to the next point: people are intimidated by yoga sometimes. I get it...I started right after I had my first child, with a VHS tape (!!!! It could have been a DVD but I'm pretty sure it wasn't) because I was too self conscious to go to a class.
But when I did eventually make it to real yoga classes, one of the things they reminded us, every single class, was the necessity of focusing on our own experience, and not to judge ourselves or anyone else. Basically, no one is looking at you. No one cares that you just fell out of Tree Pose. You don't look stupid; you look like a yogi.
And if it's your "less that perfect" body you're worried about putting on display, relax. Some of the least likely shapes have the most fantastic yoga practices, so how your body looks isn't the least bit important. We have students in their 70's and 80's, students with larger bodies, students with severe scoliosis, MS, and just about everything you can think of. Every body is a yoga body.
And the third statement, which is that yoga isn't really exercise. Yoga practitioners try not to be insulted when people say that, but the subtle dig is there. It's not a sport, and it's not a marathon run. It's an entirely different concept. There are yin and restorative classes, which are for stretching and relaxing, but challenging in their own way. Then there are vinyasa or flow classes, where you will sweat and move and yes, burn lots of calories, if that's what you're into.
I will say this: I used to be of the calories in/calories out/cardio is life mindset. But now the only exercise I do is yoga, maybe 3-4 times a week, and eat healthy about 75% of the time. I am in the best shape of my life, and feel better than I ever did when I killed myself on the treadmill. True story.
So, if after all this you still don't want to do yoga, ok. But if regular exercise doesn't do it for you anymore, or if you're looking for a way to ease into a healthier, more mindful lifestyle, maybe give it a try. All you have to do is show up.
About The Writer:
Rebecca is an Alabama native, wife and mother of two. She has been practicing yoga since 2010 and has been teaching yoga since 2012. Her classes are challenging, supportive, and full of joy.
She loves teaching all levels classes and helping students explore the amazing things their bodies can do! In her classes there will be music, laughter, and an atmosphere of encouragement. Rebecca is also a part-time writer. You can read some of her work by clicking here.