Yoga is a discipline that encompasses physical and mental exercise. It is characterized because it reduces stress, anxiety, heart rate and allows you to sleep better, that is, its practice keeps the body and minds healthy and strong. Although its benefits are becoming more popular, there are still false myths that prevent more people from practicing it.
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice originating in India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as “a priceless gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga represents the unity of mind and body, thought and action. That holistic approach is valuable to our health and well-being. It is a way of discovering the sense of one’s identity, the world and nature”.
Due to its universal popularity and the benefits it generates, on December 11, 2014, the United Nations established June 21 as the International Day of Yoga (DIY).
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According to a yoga instructor, this discipline helps develop body awareness because it invites you to be attentive to the signals that the body sends; improves balance, increases muscle strength and tone, stimulates the immune system, as well as reduces stress and anxiety through slow breathing.
“When we talk about yoga, the first thing they question is how we manage to be so flexible or they have the belief that only spiritual people practice it. Those who have not experienced it have many myths surrounding it, which we instructors have had to deny little by little”, says Zacarías.
You have to be flexible to signing up for yoga
This is one of the most common beliefs in this discipline, however, it is false. Joaquín Duarte, an instructor certified by Yoga Alliance, explains that the only thing that is flexible is required is the mind, to be willing to discover new things and fearlessly receive the emotional and mental changes that are generated.
With constant practice, after four or six months you will notice that you are more physically flexible, so it is not necessary to be so at the beginning. “The idea is that yoga adapts to the body and the possibilities of each person, not the other way around. Although we are used to seeing postures that are considered difficult, these are achieved at advanced levels. As in everything, progress is made little by little”, he emphasizes.
Yoga can make you more nervous than you already are
Fake. This discipline invites us to focus on the here and now, making it easier to find balance and harmony with our surroundings. Although if you are a nervous person and keep a lot of noise in your head, it is likely that at first, it will be difficult for you to meditate and follow the classes at a leisurely pace. For this, it is recommended to opt for more dynamic and fluid types of yoga such as Astanga yoga and Rocket yoga. The latter synchronizes breathing with movement, for example, inhalation is an upward movement and an exhalation is a downward movement. This is how it flows through the postures and the breath.
If I already exercise, I don’t need yoga
Yoga is a discipline that goes beyond exercise. So, although it has physical benefits such as improving strength, balance, and flexibility, it is about making contact with oneself and with the environment. “It is a philosophy that goes beyond sport, beyond physical benefits. It also gives us emotional well-being that is not found in other disciplines, because it connects us with the now and allows us to thank the body for our movements”, says Duarte.
Yoga is for adults only
This discipline can be practiced by anyone, from children to the elderly. Yoga provides more energy and favors the development of a more positive attitude towards life, favorable at any age. Its practice requires a constant mental effort to internalize the different postures and their development, which improves concentration and memory. In this way, it slows cognitive decline.
“In yoga, there is the concept of Ahimsa, which means non-violence and refers to not being violent in any field; neither with ourselves, with nature, nor with other beings. This allows us to be more aware of what we have around us”, says Duarte, and yoga instructor.
Yoga is expensive and inaccessible
A few years ago this was affirmative, however, nowadays there are more and more yoga studios and teachers that allow this discipline to be accessible to anyone. You can even find online, face-to-face, group, or personalized classes.
Proper clothing and equipment are needed
What is needed is a mat, a rug that allows the body to be comfortable on the floor, and comfortable clothing that allows any movement. No special equipment is needed to practice it. The instructors emphasize that before the first class, prejudices should be left aside and be open to living the experience so that the body and mind can connect.
Read More Related Topics: International Yoga Day: since when and why is it celebrated on June 21?
If I’m not spiritual, I can’t practice it
Although meditation is promoted in each class, yoga is not a religion, but a discipline that promotes the union of body and mind. The only objective is physical and mental well-being, so anyone can practice it.
It is not necessary to practice any religion or have an established belief. “Yoga has no dogma, so everyone can take from the philosophy of yoga what they like best and what fits their beliefs and needs. It is an inclusive discipline”, mentions Duarte.
Your first yoga class?
If you dared to take the first step to start practicing yoga, Joaquín Duarte, a certified instructor by Yoga Alliance, shares some recommendations for your first day of classes.
Keep an open mind and forget the ideas you have about yoga. Some instructions may seem strange to you at first, but don’t have limiting beliefs about yourself or your body, you don’t need to be flexible, have a specific age, or lead a healthy life to start practicing this discipline.
- Do not have expectations: Flow and let yourself be guided by the instructor. Be patient with yourself, this way you will learn faster.
- Listen to your body: Make movements that feel good in your body, and find a balance between demanding more in each posture and not overexerting yourself. If you have an injury, discuss it with your teacher.
- Don’t compare your practice with others: You don’t have to be perfect in the first class.
- The postures have variations at all levels, so do the one that corresponds to you, and do not compare the progress of others with yours.
- Talk to your teachers and other practitioners: You can ask your peers what their experience has been and share yours. Any doubt is valid, so ask your instructor, this way you will advance further in the practice.
- Trust the process: Little by little, with experience, you will put into practice the correct postures and breathing, as well as the activation of your muscles. If you get too tired during class, you can take a resting posture, keeping your breath and body active.