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7 misconceptions about yoga

Misconceptions about yoga
Yoga is now seen as anything from a lithe female in a ‘bikini’ pose on Instagram to a vegan fringe dweller following Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. Seriously ‘yoga’ is none of this and social media has become a great platform to promote what yoga is not!

Most of my enquiries about yoga relate to some or all of the following misconceptions. And whilst I find it somewhat amusing to keep answering these questions, I hope one day the questions will be different!


Yoga is a physical workout, like an exercise class.

Think work-in, not work-out! If the class you attend or the YouTube channel you follow, is predominantly a series of physical poses, you are missing out on the intent and the beauty of yoga. Certainly you may find yourself invigorated or even tired after the physical practice. But without being taught and experiencing the integration of sensation, breath, mind, emotion and Spirit, ‘yoga’ is missing. So yes you may as well be in a gym class!


Yoga means asana (the practice of physical poses)

There are eight ‘limbs’ or components of yoga and asana is not number one! Number one and two are the behaviors and principles for living soulfully with awareness in the world. Called the yamas and niyamas, these include being truthful to yourself and others, practising non-violence, staying content with how life is. Until we practice the yamas and niyamas we are not ready for number three, asana!


Yoga is hard – it’s OK for you.

Yoga is not designed to be hard, however it can seem that way. Finding ways to: be soft not hard on the mat; accept rather than resist what happens in meditation. These are all important skills you practice on the mat. However ‘yoga’ is not what happens on the mat, it’s what happens when you step off into your daily life. Talk with any Yoga Teacher/Therapist and you will discover that their moment-to-moment practice is anything but easy!


Men don’t do yoga!

I’m not flexible, I’ve never done yoga before, so I can’t come to class. This misconception relates to all of the above. I’m proud to say that over the past 15 years more and more men including couples are in my classes, or are booking in for private sessions. The men who continue understand that yoga is not about touching their toes – that’s not why they come. They experience how their body moves more freely and how with practice, they can stay calmer and less stressed.


I tried meditation once and it didn’t work – it’s not for me.

Any new skill requires time and patience to acquire and master. Meditation is no different! It is also learning to have a healthy relationship with the mind – and we know at the best of times how complex that is! The benefits of meditation may not be immediately apparent and when the reward is in the future, this requires some patience in the now!


All Yoga Teachers have similar levels of training.

In Australia there is no regulation of Yoga Teachers. You do not even need to be a member of a professional body to start teaching. The minimum number of hours to become a Yoga Teacher is 200 hours, which only gains you provisional membership of Yoga Australia, our professional body in Australia. There are studios on every corner now. Therefore choose wisely with your teacher!


It’s a religion or a cult. I need to chant and follow a Swami.

Integral Yoga® is the lineage (traditional) style of my training, a wholistic approach with a meditative focus. It accepts and understands people from all faiths (or none!) Whilst you may be taught by a Swami, the numerous styles of yoga today are usually delivered by an experienced Yoga Teacher. And chanting is always optional – inviting a connection with your inner voice, promoting inner change.


I’d love your comment below or for you to join me in a practice.

I’m Caroline Giles, a Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher, and the owner of Experience Yoga. I’m inspired to teach you practices of yoga for health, well-being and wholeness. My students are the everyday person like you and me. They come to create strength, vitality, inner peace and courage in their life through the practices of yoga.

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