Common Misconceptions of Yoga

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It’s the beginning of another year and many people are getting back into workout routines and making goals for 2017.

It can be intimidating to

begin or resume an activity.

Our Physiotherapists often have people ask us about what is the “best” activity for them. Whether it be after a having a car accident, a back injury, or simply to get moving, Yoga can be a great option.

There are several misconceptions when it comes to beginning Yoga:

You need to be flexible to start yoga.

This is a common misconception. It’s easy to believe this when photos, websites and social media depicting yoga often show a person in a complicated and challenging pose. There are steps and progressions for challenging poses. Every body is different. Finding an instructor that can show you the best way to use available props and modify movements to best suit your body and situation is ideal. To start in small yoga classes and even in private yoga instruction even with the intention to progress to a home based or studio practice is ideal.

Use the straps and blocks to assist in your poses and movements to ensure optimal alignment and prevent injury. As a Physiotherapist, it is more important to be able to control your movement rather than over stretch.

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Yoga is for “hippies”

Yoga is for everyone. Seriously. It depends on what brings you to yoga, and what type of  yoga you are practicing? Certainly there is a mind-body component of yoga. There is nothing wrong with practicing yoga simply for the physical aspect, although many people feel a pull for something more.

Yoga is only for Women.

Yoga is not a feminine or masculine activity. It is an activity. Both men and women are welcome at studios. It really is about the individuals own practice and goals. There are some studios that have men’s yoga classes for a less intimidating environment.

This misconception can stem from the thought that you need to be flexible to do yoga. If this is an intimidating premise, start with one-on-one yoga or a men’s class.

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Yoga is only for relaxation.

Certainly there are relaxing components of yoga, but this is dependent on the class or variety of yoga you are practicing. Is there a focus on slow and sustained movements or is it a faster flow. Try an Ashtanga class and you will realize that is is not a relaxation class.

Yoga can help a person develop range of motion, mobility, flexibility, balance and strength. This can be accomplished through body weight movements, sustained postures and repetition.

If relaxation is what you seek, yin classes, restorative classes, classes with longer shavasana, yoga nidhra classes or even guided relaxation may be the way to go. One-on-one sessions can help you accomplish these goals also.

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You have to go to a studio to practice yoga.

Once comfortable and safe with the movements of yoga, a home practice is perfectly attainable. You can do occasional drop-ins or work one-on-one with an instructor.

Yoga is dangerous

Yoga is not dangerous. Like any new activity, people benefit from specific and individualized instruction from qualified teachers. People can get hurt from doing too much too quickly. Avoid trying to keep up or pushing beyond safe boundaries into pain.

There is no rush in progressing a practice. Ego is a dangerous thing. Yoga is safe. Know your body, be patient and be gentle. Approach the teacher an let them know you are new, or out of practice and they may keep a closer eye on you. I welcome gentle “adjustments” or corrections as feedback.

I can go on about yoga


but you get the point.

Your experience with Yoga or any activity is what you make of it. Do the research and ensure you begin with a solid foundation. Invest in the foundation. Whether it be starting small group classes or one-on-one sessions that guide you into a home practice or a studio practice.

Ensure your teachers are the right ones for you.

Ask them about their philosophy regarding poses and props. Also what is their training? Traditionally a 200 hour yoga teachers training is industry standard to teach but “yoga teacher” is not a protected term like “Physiotherapist” or “Massage Therapist” or “Chiropodist” is. Ensure you teachers have at least that level of training, if not more, as well as a thirst for knowledge.