It still surprises me when someone tells me they’d like to try yoga, but they are not sure if they can do it. Maybe it’s because I’m a strong believer that yoga is something every can do (providing they find the right teacher and style that works for them) and because these words usually come from healthy, active people who are more than capable, but are resistant to try because of preconceived ideas about yoga.
This really made me question; where did these limiting beliefs and stereotypes about who can and can’t do yoga come from?
If you have ever thought about trying yoga, but something has held you back these three reasons can help to understand why.
- There is a stigma associated with people who do yoga
Over the last ten years the western world has really embraced yoga and made it more accessible to different people. However, we still have a way to go when yoga is still perceived as an exclusive practice for extremely flexible, young, females or hippies who are super calm and chilled all the time (to name just a few of the yoga stereotypes).
While that is totally fine to be all those things and love yoga, they are not pre-requisites needed to practice yoga. In fact, some of these characteristics occur because of yoga. A regular yoga practice can make you more flexible, more in tune with yourself and better able to deal with stress, anger, and other emotions.
2. Yoga on social media is different to yoga in real life
When you scroll through social media and see an impressive shot of someone doing yoga, it is not often you see them doing a modified tree pose using the wall for balance. They are usually standing on their head with their legs twisted in some strange, yet aesthetically appealing way. While these images look great, they may also be the reason why you see a divide between those who can do yoga and those who cannot.
My favourite part of my yoga teacher training was when I learnt how we do a yoga pose is based on our anatomy, our genes and our past experience. Basically, it means that those of us who can reach their toes to their head might have been dancers or gymnasts or they simply have the anatomy that allows them to bend like that. For the rest of us, we can practice yoga as much as we like, but the length of our muscles might not ever allow our body to bend like that and that’s completely ok.
3. You think all yoga poses should look the same in different bodies
As mentioned in the point above, how you do a yoga pose is based on qualities unique to you, such as anatomy and past experience. This is why yoga poses have modifications (see my post about how to modify popular poses here) so you can find your way in each pose based on what your body is able to do in that moment.
Often when you are first exposed to a yoga pose, you see an advanced version of this pose in a perfectly aligned body. You see one version of this pose and think you won’t be able to keep up with everyone else. The reality is each yoga pose always has little tweaks you can do to ensure the pose is accessible to you, you just need to learn them with a teacher who can show you how.
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