What is Yoga? Or shall we talk about, “What is not Yoga”?
Yoga is not a “fad”
The teachings of yoga were created THOUSANDS of years ago. Yes that’s right, thousands and thousands of years ago. Dating all the way back to BC times. Since that time many different styles of yoga have been developed, including a large number since yoga was introduced to the western world over 100 years ago. Most of these newer styles of yoga are modern day interpretations of the ancient philosophical teachings.
Yoga is not “fitness”
The physical practice of yoga known as “asana” is but ONE of the EIGHT limbs of yoga as described by the Indian Sage Patanjali thousands of years ago (there will be a full blog post coming on this topic in the very near future). The physical practice of asana can be strenuous, but this is not the only way to practice yoga. Yoga is not about the shape of your body, but rather about finding space in yourself and your life.
Yoga is not only for those who are “flexible”
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “I’m not flexible, so I cannot do yoga”. Yoga is actually about embracing, and accepting ourselves (body, mind, heart) exactly as we are. It is about getting to know ourselves on a really intimate level, and then letting go of anything that does not serve us. Thus creating “space” in our bodies, our minds, our hearts. Yoga does not judge your physical practice. It is simply here as a tool to allow you to let go, and find space. For some of our bodies this does mean increasing our physical flexibility, but flexibility is not a prerequisite for yoga. Yoga is to be experienced, not measured.
Yoga is not only for “thin people”
Sadly I also hear this all of the time. And I do think it is in part to the way yoga has been sensationalized in our culture. Long-limbed models in beautiful poses, which is stunning to look at visually. And for those models, that is part of THEIR yoga. But yoga can be for all of us regardless of shape, size, gender, age, physical abilities, etc. A huge part of why I choose a yoga practice is, it teaches us to love and embrace ourselves exactly as we are.
These are my own perspectives on some common misconceptions I hear often. I truly think the most important thing to know is that yoga is so many things. And that we can all develop our own definition of what yoga is for us.