Yoga is growing in popularity. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 12.3 million households with yoga practitioners, and the number is growing. Even though yoga is popping up in more and more places like schools, workplaces and rural communities, myths about yoga still abound. These misconceptions about yoga prevent people from starting a yoga practice and miss out on life-changing benefits such as stress reduction, increased flexibility and strength, and improved balance, among others.
We’ve put together a list of some of the biggest myths about yoga and ways to overcome them.
Myth #1: You have to be flexible
you have to be flexible
One of the biggest misconceptions about yoga is that it’s only for flexible people. Contrary to popular belief, yoga doesn’t require anyone to be flexible. There’s no need to be able to touch someone’s toes before they start a yoga practice. The depth of the poses is not important as long as the practitioner can feel them in the body. That said, for some people, Warrior II requires knees at a 90-degree angle, hips perfectly aligned, and feet about 5 feet apart. For others, a 45-degree front leg angle and only partially rotated hips will still have a dramatic effect on the glutes, while also lengthening and strengthening the legs.
For those of you who are inflexible, starting with a beginners class can be a non-intimidating way to learn the purpose of poses and how your body can get the most out of them. Additionally, classes such as Yin Yoga can specifically help with some tissue and bone issues that will support a more active yoga practice to increase flexibility. However, new practitioners are encouraged to try a variety of styles to see what works best for their body.
Myth 2: You have to be thin
you must be very thin
As the media began to embrace the ample bodies of Jessamyn Stanley and Dianne Bondy, social media, print and digital media often misrepresented yoga as something that could only be achieved through the use of skinny models and teachers. Yoga mags and Instagram accounts often feature slender, svelte models, and the typical curvy body or Instagram influencer still seems to be the exception rather than the norm. However, yoga is suitable for people of all sizes and abilities, regardless of representation.
To bust the myth that you have to be thin, remember that a large portion of the population is overweight, and accept gracefully that every body type has the right to move and be at all times. While most places are popular, if a yoga studio or class doesn’t feel welcome until someone comes and everyone feels supported in the practice, try different places, styles and teachers. There are also many online communities and videos that can provide guidance and support.
Myth 3: Expensive
Myth 3: Expensive
In the US alone, yoga is projected to be an $11.6 billion industry by 2020, with 71% of the market coming from yoga classes. While yoga studios tend to cater to those with freelance income, there are still plenty of opportunities to practice on a tight budget or even for free.
Search online for free yoga classes near you. For example, if your town has Lululemon or Athleta, they usually offer free weekly classes. Some cities host free classes, or some select yoga studios even offer free classes. Plus, there are tons of courses available on YouTube, or affordable subscription services from certified teachers on sites like Yoga International. Another creative option is to ask your employer to offer courses as an added perk. Finally, some yoga studios have so-called karma swaps, where students help the studio with tasks like cleaning or promotions in exchange for free classes.
Myth 4: You have to be young
Myth 4: You have to be young
Like the skinny yoga myth, the media misrepresents yoga as something for young adults. In general, older adults come in different sizes and abilities, and inaccurate descriptions can be intimidating and frustrating. However, one of the fastest growing groups of yoga is the 60+ age group. Because of its many health benefits, such as stress relief, toning, strength building, and stretching, yoga is perfect for seniors to spend their golden years in a healthy way.
There are many different practices of yoga, and it can be daunting to decide which one is best for older adults. For active older adults, many yoga classes can be effective. For older, less active seniors, there are still plenty of opportunities to exercise. Programs like SilverSneakers aren’t just for seniors, they’re an inexpensive way to learn to practice. Many community, recreational, and senior centers also offer boomer-friendly yoga. Even nursing homes and assisted living centers are starting to offer classes. For students who have trouble getting up and down the floor, there’s even chair yoga, which really could be yoga for anyone, of any age.
Myth 5: You need expensive equipment
Myth 5: You need expensive gear
Yoga pants are now outselling jeans with no end in sight, and demand will likely continue to grow as more money is invested in new technology. For those of you who haven’t practiced yoga, or who might be intimidated by taking a class or two, seeing yogis in $150 yoga pants can certainly be intimidating. However, while yoga wear and athleisure are on the rise, they are by no means required.
When attending a yoga class or simply practicing at home, practitioners should wear appropriate clothing. it can be accessed from