Yoga is a very popular form of exercise and spiritual balancing, but it is also very often understood by a lot of people. This is almost inevitable when you consider the incredible popularity of yoga as a discipline and the many different types of yoga that are out there.
Quite often people have experienced one type of yoga but not another, and as such they will base their overall impression of yoga without having all the information available. The truth is that yoga can be very different depending on who you learn it from and how they perceive yoga. Here are some of the common misconceptions.
1. Yoga is a form of exercise.
Well yes, it is, but so is walking. You can walk from your couch to your table and can hardly claim to have done any exercise for the day. The truth is that exercise is just the beginning of what yoga is. It’s closer to a combination of exercise, physiotherapy, psychology and spirituality all rolled into one.
As you come to master yoga you will need to become more and more mentally strong, and most importantly disciplined. If you can discipline yourself to do regular yoga sessions and maintain your discipline to do each pose for the prescribed time and do it properly, then you will naturally become a very disciplined and organised person.
2. Yoga is for Hippies.
As previously mentioned yoga can be a very spiritual experience if you become good enough at clearing your thoughts and concentrating whilst performing the exercises. But you certainly do not have to begin with any spiritual belief. Yoga believes in aligning the body and the mind and the spirit through achieving inner balance. What that means to you is probably going to depend entirely on what your beliefs already are.
For some people it will be a spiritually freeing experience, for others it will be an effective way of distressing and achieving a level of calmness of thought.
3. Yoga is a Fad.
Recently there have been some hyped-up yoga courses making big claims about what yoga can achieve. These are easy to associate with other ‘fad’ exercise crazes.
However, yoga is not something new and is based on documents that are hundreds of years old which describe exercises and poses that were probably being performed for generations before that. While an individual style of yoga may come and go, as long as people are still stretching before a game of football then yoga will still be being used.
4. Yoga is too slow to help me lose weight.
This one is way off the mark, but we have been somewhat trained by the weight loss industry that weight loss, and toning our body is all about hours in the gym and fast high-impact exercise. That’s simply not true. Yoga can help with weight loss and in particular toning for several reasons.
Firstly the exercises, while low impact and performed either statically or slowly – are still exercises. While you use them you are using your muscles, and in many cases, you are using muscles and muscle groups that regular exercise programs ignore.
The second way that yoga can be of benefit in a weight loss program is that it will increase your mental strength and allow you to be more disciplined with your food consumption. When it comes down to it excess weight is a result of excess eating and not enough physical exercise to burn off those calories.
The third benefit of yoga is weight loss, as your muscles develop your body will become more efficient at consuming foods and processing them into nutrients and waste.