My first yoga experience was just ok. It was a two hour Yin Yoga class and mostly involved holding uncomfortable poses for a long time on the floor with lots of props. (Props are tools like foam blocks, blankets and pillows to help you with poses.)
The class was good for clearing my mind, but I wasn’t really interested in going back. I felt like I could do more with my time. But nearly a year later, I can honestly say I LOVE Yoga. I’m so glad I gave it another try at different studios. Yoga is teaching me to be active to treat my body well, not forcing my body into grueling workouts for the sole purpose of burning calories to lose weight. So if you’re new to Yoga, let me debunk a few myths.
- Myth 1) Yoga is a Weird Religious Practice Or Devil Worship. I invited one of my friends to try yoga and she declined on the basis that yoga is “demonic.” Really? Yoga is not about religion. It’s about getting in tune with your body. It makes you pay attention and gain greater respect for your physical body and how it can transform with practice. When you’re having quite time lying on your back (also known as Shavasana) you can pray or meditate or do whatever you want. But, you’re not instructed to do anything but be present and pay attention to your body. It’s not about God, Jesus, Budda, the devil or anybody else (unless you want it to be.) It’s about getting your mental and physical body more aligned.
- Myth 2) I Can’t Afford It. It’s just not true. Almost every yoga studio I’ve been to has a donation class. Meaning you show up and pay what you can. And by the way, how much do you spend on going out to eat, getting your hair done, or what about that $100 cable bill? There’s probably room in your budget if you’re serious about it spending money on fitness.
- Myth 3) It’s Only For Rich Skinny White Ladies. Well guess what? That’s a bunch of B….Baloney. Lol. I ain’t rich, skinny or white and I love it. That’s actually the main reason why I do love yoga. It’s come as you are. Yoga does not discriminate. Yoga is a practice, and everyone there is practicing their poses. There is no point where you have “arrived.” Yes, it’s cool to be able to do the splits on a head stand. But it’s also really cool that after a much practice, I can stand on one foot and reach back to hold on to the other ankle without falling over. There are no expectations on what you should look like to be a Yogi. You do not have to have $80 Lululemon brand yoga pants to practice. Heck they don’t even make them in my size. (but that’s another post for another day)
- Myth 4) I Know What it’s Like Because I Saw it on TV. You can’t know what yoga is like from seeing it on TV anymore that you would know what running is like if you watched 5K training on TV. I used to laugh at yoga stuff when I saw it on TV. There’s the male yoga teacher getting a free feel behind a woman in downward dog position, or the obsessive tree hugging vegan yogi that lives in cave. But in real life, Yoga teachers are about the nicest people you’ll ever meet. At my favorite studio, one of the first things they ask is that you simply raise your hand (or foot) if you don’t want to be touched, and the instructor will respect your space. I’ve never felt like my personal space was invaded. And the few times when the teacher did come and physically correct my pose alignment, it felt so much better to do it properly. And lastly, no one forces you to be vegan or shames you for eating chicken. Some yogis are vegan because they are more in tune with their bodies and eat the natural foods that make them feel healthy and strong.
- Myth 5) All Yoga is the Same. Not true! My first YinYoga class and Bootcamp Yoga class couldn’t possibly be any different. In Bootcamp yoga we lifted weights and did jumping jacks to Beyoncé. Dan my trainer told me they even have cosmic yoga in a dark room with neon lights. I can’t wait to try that. I saw they even have one by candlelight. That sounds so relaxing. And as much as I hate to sweat, Hot Yoga is my favorite class. It’s a structured hour long class, half standing balance poses and half core on the floor while the temperature is set to 105 Degrees F (40.6 C). That heat sounds like torture, but it relaxes your muscles and allows you to stretch even deeper. Hot yoga helps me destress, learn to breathe, and sweat with little to no effort. (More bang for my buck.)
So try a yoga class for yourself and let me know what you think. If you’re already a Yogi, please comment and help me convince the newbies to become #TeamYoga.
I love yoga so much! The problem is that when I try to do yoga in a class, I psych myself out about doing my best that I always to terribly (falling over, forgetting to breathe, etc.). I bought some yoga DVDs so I could do them at home. My question is this: are yoga DVDs and actual class the same in terms of learnability and practice?
Great question Lindi. I think it has a lot to do with what feels most comfortable for you. My best friend has lost 70 pounds and she walks every morning and does fitness DVDs, she doesn’t even have a gym membership. Going to yoga class makes me feel more motivated and comfortable that I can ask questions and get live feedback, but you can certainly practice at home too and see great results.
I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for 3.5 years or so. For the first 3 years, I was consistently twice a week, except when we were on vacation or sick. But this summer, my husband started attending classes with me. He got really on board, and we average 5 classes a week now! Yikes, I never thought I’d be in for 5 early days a week (we go to 5:45AM class)! There is nothing better than starting your day with a clear mind, and your exercise complete: I call it my mind/body workout. For me, it was all about finding a studio where I felt at home, and teachers that I enjoy. Our studio is full of welcoming and encouraging folks, of all shapes and colors! I recommend yoga to anyone who will listen.
That’s awesome! I love the diversity of your class. Unfortunately, in most of these classes I’ve gone to, I’m usually the only black girl and usually the only plus size woman. I’m not sure if it’s my location or what. But at each studio they have been warm and friendly.
That’s so awesome that you go to yoga so much now and that you have your husband as a yogi partner. I can’t wait until I can do inversions. That just looks so cool! And I can’t imagine the strength (mental and physical) that it takes to do it.