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Dispelling a few yoga myths

Dispelling a few yoga myths

I’ve been doing yoga now since I was 13. Back then yoga wasn’t cool. Back then yoga was for women only (not strictly enforced of course but it wasn’t something real men did).

There is still a bit of that now, but the barriers are dropping. Men who wouldn’t have dreamed of doing yoga before will now try it.

But there are still barriers, due to the way yoga is portrayed by it’s devotees. To my mind (and by extension I would expect to other people like myself) there is a lot of pretentiousness in the yoga world, especially the LA yoga scene.  So I’m going to try to dispel a few of these myths. I don’t want people to have barriers put in their way to things that are beneficial to them.

Now a bit about me. I’m 50 and a lifelong weight lifter. I currently weigh in at around 260lbs (120Kgs) of largely muscle (even if I am a little more thick waisted than I would like to be).

I explain this only to illustrate that you do not need to be a certain type to practise yoga.  So let’s get to a few myths about people who practise yoga.

The first big one is that you have to be a vegan. I recently read an article where a yoga practitioner had “come out” to yoga friends as not being vegan. It was heresy (well that’s vegans for you.. a crazier bunch of zealots you won’t find) and she copped a lot of flak and probably lost friends.

Apparently the principle of ahimsa, or non violence, is a core yoga tenet that some people use to say that you have to be vegetarian. Well in my world, you can choose what suits you. I look at beliefs like a buffet. You can choose the potato salad and leave the pasta salad alone if that’s your preference. Nobody says.. “no but you must have the pasta salad” at the buffet, because that’s their preference do they?

The thing is everything that people say you must do when it comes to yoga is their version of how they believe things should be. Some people are like that; they believe that everyone must do things their way or they are wrong. Unfortunately, that’s the way they are. Only way to deal with these people is ignore them.

So if you want to be a carnivore, that’s fine by me. And if someone tells you that you HAVE to be vegan.. tell them to mind their own business.

Next big myth is that you have to embrace the Hindu religion, or any different spiritual beliefs for that matter.  This comes back to what I was saying about ahimsa. So what if it’s a core tenet of someone else’s belief? Their beliefs are their business; yours are yours.

Once again some people may want to embrace the spiritual; it is their business. To me, a lot of this is pretension. Frankly, the way some of these (did I mention  the LA yoga scene?) people make me want to vomit. A western person with the name Katy calling herself a guru and wearing a turban? How affected is that?  It’s fantasy land stuff; it’s grown ups playing make believe. It makes yoga into a cult like practise and turns people who would otherwise benefit off trying it.

On the flip side of this, and this is some really crazy stuff, there are people who say don’t do yoga because it is unchristian, because of the Indian/Hindu roots of it. (If you want a laugh, read this article about the “demonic roots of yoga)” Once again, people who are that limited  in their thinking to see a series of physical practises as a threat to their faith are simply best ignored. Yes you can be Catholic and practise yoga and it won’t harm your faith.

Next, there have been a couple of articles recently about beer yoga and baked yoga. By baked we don’t mean as in cakes, more joints. Once again on both of these the purists come out and stamp their feet and hold their breath, saying no. Well I’m here to say, if it’s what floats your boat, do it. My partner and I personally would do yoga with a glass of wine of an evening for a while; it’s great.

Finally, appearance. You don’t have to look a certain way or dress a certain way. If you’re a man, you don’t need to have a man bun or anything like that and you don’t need to wear yoga clothes, all white, all orange for that matter, turbans, or anything really. I personally wear shorts and a t shirt or track pants. in other words, same clothes I workout in.

There is actually a well known yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor who has been attacked by other yoga people for not fitting in with their view of what a yoga teacher should be like. Her crimes? Dying her hair and wearing shorts that are too short.

Many people feel a need to  belong.  So clearly yoga practitioners are going to be the same. There are always going to be some people who do a bit of yoga, some people who do more, and some people who let it define their life and become their entire existence. These are the people who are going to develop an orthodoxy about what they do.. how to dress, how to behave,  what to think.

What I’m saying is that their way is not the only way. Don’t let those people who adopt certain affectations when they discover yoga to put you off. I am definitely not what most people would consider the typical yoga practitioner, but then I don’t care.

Yoga helps me get more flexible. It improves my balance and co ordination. It strengthens my core. It also feels good – anyone who does it can tell you about the yoga high.  So I’m going to keep on doing it and ignoring those who would insist I adhere to their dogma or I’m not doing it right. And if you think you would like the benefits of yoga but have felt you don’t want to adopt an entire belief system, I’m telling you.. do it your way.

Read more about getting high and doing yoga.

Image Source: PBS NewsHour from Arlington, Va., USA – 083012_HuffPostOasis_007, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54633890

About The Author

Shaun

A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

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