When it comes to improving emotional and physical health, yoga does it all! Research demonstrates many benefits. Still, alongside yoga there are many common misconceptions that prevent people from trying it:
- I’m not flexible.
- I’m too old.
- I’m embarrassed to try a class.
- I will never, ever wear spandex.
- Yoga is too woo-woo for me; it seems like a weird religion.
You are not alone if you find yourself thinking these things! I help people address these same concerns every day. I am here to tell you: you can absolutely do yoga. But first, we have to define what yoga really is—and it’s easiest to do that by briefly defining what it is NOT.
Five Things Yoga is NOT:
1. Yoga is not reserved for people more flexible than you.
- The poses are just one part of an eight-limbed wellness system, and they can be modified to be done lying down or from a chair.
- We start from where you are at and grow from there. The only flexibility needed for starters is an open mind!
2. Yoga is not about naming all the poses you can’t do.
- Yoga is strength-based, meaning that when we do poses, we start with what you can do, and safely build from that.
- Yoga poses can be adapted using props--such as blankets and pillows—to help support you.
3. Yoga is not reserved for spandex-clad fitness freaks who are younger than you.
- Yoga is used in hospitals to help people of all ages recover from injuries and chronic illness.
- Yoga helps people with emotional traumas to feel safe again.
4. Yoga is not a religion.
- When yoga was first brought to the United States, it was presented as a total wellness program that supports the individual’s spiritual growth within any and every religion.
- Yoga is a discipline that supports every type of mindfulness program including meditation.
5. Yoga is not a competition.
- The people in class are on the same team. They’re on the same physical journey as you – and are probably filled with stories about where they started from! They had a first class, too.
- Yoga is about you! Recall that we start with where you are at and build from there.
Try Yoga Today!
The introduction of yoga to first-time students (and people who think they can’t do it) is one of the most rewarding things I do. Why? Because across the board, they are amazed by how much better they feel, and how much they CAN do, even after the first class. It’s rewarding for me because I see how rewarding it is for them. This has nothing to do with how they performed any one pose. Yoga lesson #1 is about mindset: it’s the experiential shift from I CAN’T into I CAN.
You can feel that same sense of reward and empowerment. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re “not flexible”. The only flexibility you really need is in the mind—it’s the willingness to try!
Jodi Gonzales ATR, NCC, RYT200 is a credentialed art therapist, counselor and yoga instructor. She is the creator of Art + Yoga Wellness, a powerful program that provides effective tools for improving resilience, including emotional and physical health. Jodi offers presentations and group workshops both in-person and on-line. To learn about how Art + Yoga Wellness will benefit you or your organization, contact Jodi at email@example.com or 520-276-1878. Current events and workshops are posted at http://artyogawellness.com/events/ and on Facebook.