As humans, we naturally categorize things. While the process of creating categories can help us function in our world by processing thoughts, it can also be limiting. We may assume things to be true when they are not and be unwilling to let go of these thoughts. Below are six assumptions that we are tired of hearing about yoga and that we should let go of.
You Have to Have Specific Props and Clothing to Practice.
When I first started exploring yoga, I felt like I needed to buy specific props, such as a yoga mat, and clothing, like yoga pants, to practice. I wasn’t comfortable going to a studio without this basic gear, assuming that having it would make me look like a natural yogi, and that I needed it to practice.
The reality is that you don’t need to buy anything to practice yoga. Your clothing needs to be comfortable, and something that allows you to move and relax. While props such as yoga mats, blocks, straps, and towels can all support you in practice, none of them are necessary. Having material items does not make you a better yoga student – it makes a better consumer! Focus on what you really need in practice and choose items that will support you.
There is One Yoga Path.
There are many different yoga paths – different styles, teachers, and yogic philosophies. When you find a yoga style that you really enjoy and that works for you, it is easy to be self-righteous and claim it is the “best” or the “only” path to take.
The reality is that different yoga styles resonate with different people, and every person has their own personal yoga practice and path. Definitely celebrate what works for you, but also be open to the styles, ideas, and experiences of other people.
Yoga is Too Slow.
I’ve heard people say they avoid trying yoga because it is too slow. Now, yoga is not for everybody, but this “slowness” depends on the class. A fast-paced vinyasa class, for example, will get your circulation moving faster than a slower yin class. The troubling part of this assumption is that slower is often seen as inferior, while in fact a slower paced practice can be extremely beneficial.
Yoga Isn’t Based in Science.
Some people avoid yoga because they believe it isn’t supported by science. It is important to note that yoga was around long before modern science and research became the yardstick for exploring how yoga influences our mind and body. That said, many researchers in established universities and research centers are now exploring how yoga affects us, and why it is beneficial to so many people.
Yogis are Calm.
This is a tricky one. Everyone comes to yoga for a reason – to get in shape, calm the mind, improve body awareness, or just feel better. When you hear the word “yogi”, it is easy to picture a person seated in Lotus position, meditating in front of a sunset. The truth is, most people are coming to yoga to improve themselves, and this process takes hard work and dedication to the practice. While yoga can lead to a calmer state, it may take a while to get there.
The Yoga Market is Saturated with Too Many Teachers.
I hear this idea from yoga teachers and the general public a lot – everyone seems to be a yoga teacher. It is true that since the mid- to late 2000s, yoga teacher training has exploded into the mainstream market, producing more yoga teachers than ever before.
The flipside of this is that more people are practicing yoga than ever before, which means a demand for teachers is there, too. And every yoga teacher I have gone to, regardless of style or experience, has taught me something new. With an abundance of yoga teachers, there is also an abundance of students. Think big.
We all have preconceived notions about what yoga is, what it should be, and what it means to us. These ideas can make yoga very personal to us, and at times cloud our perspective. It is important to reflect and sometimes challenge these beliefs to avoid limiting your personal growth both on and off the mat.
Image credit: Tie Simpson