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Myths and Realities about Yoga

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It is a common knowledge that during the last 4050 years, Yoga has become a widespread practice throughout the world. Patanjali Maharshi’s Asthanga Yoga clearly indicates that Yoga has a holistic approach towards human’s life and attainment of the highest goals both in the physical, mental and spiritual levels. Misconceptions of this ancient method have unfortunately kept people from taking into the path of yoga.

Some myths and facts about yoga are listed below.

Myth

Yoga is just lessons on postures and breathing practices    

Facts

Yoga is a foundation of observance of principles put into effect to live life in harmony in the present circumstances. If, at least the first four stages/limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are practiced regularly and with proper understanding, there is no doubt that it would benefit all aspects of life.

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Myth

Yoga is just a sport and is only physical exercise    

Fact

Yoga is an integrated path and regular practice of yogasanas combined with pranayama will help in developing physical fitness, mental alertness and considerable increase of positive tendencies. Swami Sivananda has said, “A life with good health is a great blessing indeed.8 Life without health is a miserable condition, even if he is the Lord of the whole earth”. To quote Dr. BKS Iyengar, “in yoga, the body disciplines the mind and mind disciplines the body….the body must be trained to be the servant, not the master”.7 Many sports persons have taken up to yoga and pranayama for achieving physical fitness, mental calm and success in their sports.

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Myth

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Yoga is meant only for a section or group of people    

Fact

Yoga is a science applicable to all sections of the society without the barriers of age, sex, caste, creed, religion or sect. Unlike other systems of physical exercises requiring costly equipment, etc., the requirement for practicing yoga and Pranayama is an airy place and smoke-free environment, a blanket or a mat, and of course, determination to practice.

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Myth

One has to be flexible to practice Yoga     

Fact

Everyone’s bodies are different and we cannot force our body when it doesn’t want to be forced. It is about listening to what our body is telling us. It is not expected that all people who take yoga for the first time are super human pretzels. The media sometimes portray yoga students, as these glamorous, incredibly fit and flexible yoga dynamos. These publicity photos are usually trained teachers and students who have been practicing for years. Some people are more flexible than others and some will struggle with flexibility no matter how long they practice yoga. These physical differences need to be honored. Yoga isn’t about competition and one should never push one’s body to the point of pain.

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Myth

Everybody must be at the same level and practice the same asanas    

Fact

Yoga is not a competitive sport. Students try to keep up with the person next to them, which could be physically harmful (especially for beginners). Even though yoga teachers demonstrate asanas at a certain pace, it doesn’t mean students have to feel pressured into keeping up at that pace. Resting between poses is acceptable.

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Myth

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Yoga is too ‘New Age’ and/or too religious or spiritual for me    

Fact

Yoga is how we perceive it. Ethically, teachers should never force their personal beliefs upon students. The tenets behind yoga are spiritual in nature (since yoga is affiliated with Vedic Hinduism); however, it doesn’t mean yoga students are forced to adhere to this same spiritual philosophy.

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Myth

Yoga looks boring and slow   

Fact

 Many people perceive yoga to be very slow, methodical and boring. Yoga can be slow and calming but it can also be invigorating and powerful. It depends on what kind of yoga you practice (for example, the more dynamic Ashtanga yoga), the speed of asanas and your teacher’s style of teaching

In brief, it can be said that yoga has a universal approach without barriers. The earlier the myth that yoga has limitations is removed, the better it is for the human kind to understand the realities and gain from the ancient science.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 18, 2015