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You’ve heard ‘em. Heck, you’ve probably used them at some time.
I’m talking about the most common reasons people give for not being able to practice yoga, otherwise known as “yoga myths.”
They may have worked for you in the past, but those days are over because today I’m debunking them!
1. "I’m not flexible enough to do yoga."
Saying that you can’t do yoga because you aren’t flexible is like saying you can’t go to sleep because you’re tired. It just doesn’t make any sense!
If you lack flexibility then yoga is a great thing for you to take up! And lucky for you, being able to touch your toes isn’t a requirement.
Yoga poses are not one-size-fits-all. Each pose looks different on each body. When it comes to a pose like standing forward fold, you may find that the person to your right can touch his toes while the person to your left cannot even reach past her thighs.
It doesn’t mean that one person is right while the other is wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean that one person is a good yogi while the other is a bad yogi. It means that different bodies allow for different expressions of the pose and they both are perfect the way they are. So if you think your level of flexibility is an excuse for not hitting the mat, think again.
2. "I don’t have time to do yoga."
Can you carve out three minutes of your day for a short meditation? Two minutes of deep breathing? One minute to practice Warrior II? Then you have enough time to do yoga. And if your answer was no, you aren’t looking hard enough! When you have the time to devote a solid hour or more to your yoga practice, that’s great! But when you don’t, you need to get creative.
Three minutes when you wake up in the morning can be spend sitting in silence, focusing on the breath and meditating on who you want to be today. Two minutes of pranayama, or breathing exercises, can get you feeling ready for the day ahead.
When you rushed for time and can’t fit in your asana, you can always brush your teeth in tree pose. Sitting at your work desk you can do some seated forward bends and twists. A short meditation and a few restorative poses before bed will help you drift off to sleep. When you look at a yoga practice that way, you will realize you have more than enough time.
3. "Yoga costs too much money."
While it's true that some yoga studios can be costly, many have great deals for new clients or students who make a commitment to come regularly. Still, not being able to afford public classes isn’t a good reason to write off yoga altogether.
There are many alternatives such as books, DVDs, and online resources. There are wonderful sites such as Yogaglo and Yogavibes, which allow you to pay a small monthly fee to access unlimited streaming yoga classes from the comfort of your own home. And when even those options feel too pricey, roll out your mat and be your own teacher. Listen to your body and see what it craves. It doesn’t get much cheaper then that!
4. "I heard you can get hurt doing yoga."
You could get hurt getting out of bed every morning. Are you going to stop doing it? You can get hurt doing pretty much anything if you aren’t mindful of what you are doing. When it comes to yoga, the same rules apply. Get yourself to a good class (in a studio, or online) where you trust the teacher and know their credentials. But it doesn’t stop there. You need to recognize your inner teacher as the best and most important teacher you have.
When practice yoga, the key to staying injury-free is to listen to your body. When something doesn’t feel right, you don’t push harder so you can look better then the yogi next to you. When a pose begins to feel a little too intense, you don’t stretch more so that you can reach as far as the yoga teacher. On a day when you aren’t feeling well, you don’t jump out of bed and do 108 Sun Salutations. Look at every feeling in your body as an important message not to be ignored.
5. "I can’t do yoga, I’m Catholic [or insert your religion here]."
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not a religion. It doesn’t’ require you to worshop any dieties or partake in any kind of religious ceremonies. While yoga is more than a physical practice, the spiritual side is about uniting your mind, your body and your breath. It is about recognizing how your thoughts, words and actions affect everything that happens around you. It is about seeing your connection to every other living being on the planet. Having any one particular religion, or no religion at all for that matter, does not exclude you from practicing yoga.
Next time you find yourself using one of these excuses for not getting on your mat, ask yourself what it is that is really keeping you away. And if your go-to excuse didn’t make the list, be sure to send it my way so I can debunk it for you!