Many view yoga as an exercise, some as a relaxation technique and several others as a way of life. In the past several years after the United Nations officially declared International Day of Yoga, the word yoga and its practice has had wide reach. Whether you practice yoga regularly or have heard of it, we might be carrying some myths around this subject. Let us look at some myths around this subject and debunk them.
Yoga is only asanas
It is a common misconception that yoga only means physical activity. According to ancient texts, there are 8 parts to yoga :
- Yama (ethical or moral discipline)
- Niyama (self discipline)
- Asana (posture)
- Pranayama (breathing practice)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal from senses)
- Dharana (focus with effort)
- Dhyana (effortless focus)
- Samadhi (Sublimation)
Practising asanas or physical posture is only one part of it which can be done at any time as long as we keep our stomach empty. However as per the teaching of great masters like Sage Patanjali one can practice yoga throughout the day by understanding the 8 parts or Ashtanga Yoga.
Yoga is only for flexible people
A lot of people do not practice yoga asanas because they are unable to touch their toes when they bend forward. If flexibility was a necessary requirement to practice yoga, then most of us would have to stay out of the practice. Every yoga asana has a modification and the practice is designed to suit everybody. In the practice of asanas, one learns to keep the attention on the breath with every practice. In this simple practice one learns self-acceptance, develops focus and helps align the body, breath and mind. A flexible body in the practice of yoga is only a side effect but when learnt with the right guidance, yoga teaches us to have a flexible mind.
Doing more advanced poses means you’re better at yoga
It is true that some of the advanced asanas look very good when performed by an advanced practitioner and the mind generally tends to believe that an advanced asana means higher/better yoga. We have to understand that every body type is different. For some, bending backward will be easier than bending forward, others twisting their body sideways is easier etc. It is good to recognize these strengths and practice, however not believe that only advanced asanas give more benefit. If you talk to a long-time practitioner of yoga, they will share that less is more because it does not matter what level of asanas one is doing but with how much awareness and attention one practices. The awareness of the asana takes precedence over the level of asana.
Yoga requires a lifestyle change
Yoga is meant to be for everybody. It does not matter where you are or what your current lifestyle is. If you are willing to invest your holistic wellbeing, then yoga is for you. The practice of yoga is not regimented and does not demand that one has to do the practice everyday. One can pick 2 or 3 days in a week and anywhere between 15 to 60 min for practice. The practice can be customized based on every individual. There is no doubt that there are benefits for everyday practice but that will be an individual choice and not a requirement.
The very practice of yoga, when done correctly, builds a certain synergy between the body, breath and mind. This in turn has a subtle effect on our lifestyle, such as the choice of food one eats or staying calm in a stressful situation but there are effects that are seen organically and are not intrusive in one’s way of life.
Bharat Yoga Vidya Kendra announces regular yoga courses every month to suit one’s requirements. There are short term courses like the basic Yoga M and an advanced KausalaM courses which are taught online. To learn this subject in-depth, the kendra also organizes a 30 days teacher training course.
For more information and to sign up for the upcoming courses, please visit our website