When people think yoga, they often envision upside-down poses and zenned out people in a fancy studio. But, you’re stereotypical image of yoga isn’t necessarily the reality. Many people stay away from yoga out of fear that it’s not for them. They worry they won’t be able to bend their legs in the right way, or they think it might not be enough of a workout for them. But, there’s a reason that so many people enjoy yoga—and you can be one of them. There are plenty of yoga myths out there, and if you’ve been considering trying out the practice, you won’t want these misconceptions to stop you.
There are many types of yoga practices, and you definitely don’t have to be an expert to dive in. Although impressive headstand images on social media might intimidate you, yoga isn’t all about nailing down the splits or perfecting your breathing or even breaking the ultimate sweat. Once you get these misbeliefs out of your head, you might be surprised to find how well yoga can fit into your life. Here are six myths about yoga that you shouldn’t believe.
1. You have to be flexible.
Many people fear yoga because they don’t think they’re flexible enough to do it. “It’s shocking how many people have this misconception, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite,” says Yoga Instructor Sarah Ezrin. “We don’t need to be flexible to do yoga—we do it to become flexible! It’s also interesting to note that it’s not stiff bodies who are most at risk for injury, but the flexible bodies, who tend to sit in their joints.”
2. It’s just for women.
One of the biggest yoga myths is that the practice is just for women. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga actually began as an all-male practice, and it wasn’t until modern times that yoga began to be dominated by women. So, yoga can be just as beneficial, if not more, for men. “I’ve noticed more and more men showing up for classes lately,” says Yoga Instructor Courtnie Hamel. “Sometimes, there are even more men than women! Men can be less flexible naturally, so yoga is absolutely beneficial for them.” This added flexibility can help men (and women) in every other type of workout. You can run faster and lift more weight—all with a lowered risk of injury.
3. It’s expensive.
Many people feel that yoga is too expensive or it’s out of reach for them. Although some studios can cost a pretty penny, there are plenty of ways to incorporate a yoga practice without having to indulge in a costly membership. “There are tons of free resources online to practice yoga,” says Hamel. “You don’t have to go to a fancy studio class. You can also pick up a book that outlines some of the basic postures and practice those at home.” Additionally, many cities also have donation-based studios to give more people access to affordable yoga.
Aaptiv has audio fitness yoga workouts for every level—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—that you can do anywhere. You can even choose what style you prefer so whether you want a challenging vinyasa flow or a more laidback restorative flow, it’s there for you. And it only costs $15/month or $100 for the whole year.
4. It’s not a good workout.
If you’re someone who fears yoga won’t hit the physical activity level that you need, it’s possible that you’re taking the wrong class. “With so many types of classes available, it can be tricky to pick which one is right for you,” says Yoga Teacher Lexus Anderson. “Both Power Yoga and Buti Yoga classes are going to give you that sweat-sesh you may be searching for. Also, keep in mind that most teachers are more than happy for you to amplify poses in classes. Feeling strong? Throw some push-ups into the flow.”
5. It’s not good for people with injuries or pain.
There are many types of yoga styles, and a huge area of yoga is yoga for injuries and chronic illness. “Doctors regularly prescribe yoga for certain injuries, like lower back pain,” says Ezrin. “Just make sure that you check the schedule and talk to a yoga adviser to find the style that is appropriate for you. A strong heated vinyasa class is not the best idea if you suffer high blood pressure. If you are looking to lose weight and get your heart rate up, a restorative practice may not be the best choice.”
6. It’s all about crazy poses.
Yoga is not just about nailing that headstand or getting your foot above your head. Although accomplishing new poses can be a part of the excitement of yoga, it’s not the whole picture. “I think everyone comes to yoga for different reasons,” says Hamel. “For some, it might be the crazy poses, but for others, it can be about connecting with the breath, slowing down, stretching, gaining strength, etc. The cool thing about yoga is that you can make it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter what someone else is doing. It’s all about you, your body, and your mind.”
Don’t let these common yoga myths get in the way of you trying out a new workout routine that’s good for both the body and mind.