Although yoga has been around for hundreds of years, there are still numerous myths about it, including who can take it, what it’s good for, as well as it having religious affiliations. Below, we offer six of the most common myths about yoga, and explain why they are not at all true. Read on for more!
Myth 1: You have to be flexible to practice yoga
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about yoga, and it is precisely the reason why you should start! You will gain flexibility quite quickly just by taking yoga, and you shouldn’t let it dissuade you from trying it out. Yes, there are the occasional extra bendy students in class, but for the most part classes are filled with people just like you – wanting to better themselves mentally, physically and spiritually. Gaining flexibility is just an added bonus.
Myth 2: Yoga is only for women
Although in the United States it feels as though only women take yoga, this is not a true statement. Men are welcome in all classes, and some even teach! Yoga is beneficial to everyone, no matter your gender, and can be especially helpful for men with tight hips and hamstrings. If you feel strange as the only man in a room full of women, look for classes either taught by men or that are focused at men, including ones specific to certain sports.
Myth 3: Yoga is part of a religion
Yoga is not a part of a religion, and has never had anything to do with a religious group. If anything, yoga is a practice that helps you achieve your goals. These goals could be as varied as the individuals themselves, including weight loss, better endurance, improved concentration, uniting with the universal self, etc. Often religion and spirituality are used interchangeably, which can be confusing for those not familiar with yoga. Spirituality is about understanding oneself better in relation to the correlation between the individual and the universal cosmos. Many people say they find their “spiritual selves” while practicing yoga, but that does not mean it is part of a religion.
Myth 4: Yoga doesn’t count as exercise
This seems to be a pretty common misconception about yoga. Just because there is not much cardio in most forms of yoga that does not mean it is not a form of exercise. In fact, it can make you very strong and flexible. Yoga works on overall strength of the muscles and joints in the body, while increasing your endurance, so your body is evenly balanced. Sun salutation and vinyasa styles of yoga can help strengthen and relax the muscles of the heart by providing cardio and tone during the practice. Yoga is definitely a form of exercise, and can be very beneficial in many ways.
Myth 5: You’ll lose weight and burn more calories if you do hot yoga
Bikram yoga fanatics usually brag about the “bonus” effects of practicing hot yoga, however they have yet to be proven. Many people think they lose a lot of weight after taking one of these classes, however, it is mostly just water weight they have sweated out, and it will soon be replaced when they rehydrate. This is a pretty common myth in all forms of exercise, not just yoga, and seems to confuse many people. However, you will not burn any more calories in a heated room than you would in a regular class.
This is not to say that you can’t take Bikram or hot yoga classes if that is what you like. Just make sure to stay hydrated and watch for signs of dizziness and nausea while in class.
Myth 6: Yoga is only good for relaxation
This, again, is a false statement. Although yoga can certainly help you destress and relax, that does not mean that is the only thing it is good for. Yoga has numerous benefits, and relaxation is just one of them. There are lots of different kinds of yoga, so, of course, you can choose a class that is specifically focused on relaxation if that is indeed what you, but there are also many, faster-paced classes that can give you a good workout. It all comes down to what you like or want from a yoga class.