We know that walking into a yoga studio for the first time can be intimidating. While you probably have hundreds of questions, let’s start with seven. We want to dispel a few rumors before you go in!
It’s only for women
A day doesn’t go by without seeing women in stretchy yoga pants breezing up and down King Street, a yoga mat on their back. It’s true that in the United States most yoga teachers and students are women. But you historians out there would be interested to know that the modern day, physical practice was “invented” and only practiced by men. In fact, the classes of the 1950s were designed for adolescent boys, so what you see today has been adapted to all body types and genders. More and more men in the West are discovering the benefits of yoga.
You have to be skinny and/or a Millennial
This myth perpetuates due to the prevalence of Instagram postings by fit, young people. But take a look at these yogis who are advocating yoga for everyone. The age of students at Refresh ranges from 15- 70. It’s never too early or late to start! Some of our students have been practicing for decades and they credit it for their health and longevity. Others started in our Beginner Yoga Series and have seen all the benefits of increased relaxation and flexibility in daily living. There is also yoga for prenatal mothers. Whatever your size, stage in life or generation, yoga includes you too.
Yoga is only for flexible people
When you say “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” that’s like saying “I’m not strong enough to go to the weight room.” Yes, there will be people touching their toes and doing crazy things next to you. Who cares? It’s not about them. But it also didn’t happen overnight. They had to work at it. If you work consistently you can increase your range of motion too. Your teachers will show you how to modify and use our props to adapt the class to the place you are right now, today.
“Real” Yoga clothes are too expensive
You can buy expensive yoga clothes and “look the part”. You can also wear your favorite, ratty Virginia Tech t-shirt and gym shorts. Whatever makes you the most comfortable. You can also buy pricey pants and never step on a yoga mat. This is a judge-free zone. We just ask that you take off your shoes. Think of all the money you save when you don’t have to buy shoes! See #4 here for some extra tips.
Chanting is weird
Sometimes we chant or say “Om.” Don’t knock it til you try it! If you like music, especially acapella, you can appreciate the healing power of vibration. Read here about the benefits of chanting and some of the history. If you’re not sure how to join in, start by humming. At our little Old Town studio we don’t do more than 3 rounds of Om. It might seem weird at first, but I bet soon you’ll wish we did more!
Short answer- it shouldn’t. If something hurts, it’s time to change what you are doing. Yoga can mean sitting in meditation. However, sitting with legs crossed for a long period of time might be detrimental to some people especially in the joints or back. Therefore, you will see these yogis adjust their posture even in seemingly “simple” positions. The key is modifying your practice to match your needs.
The irony is that most people as they age will find themselves in a perpetual state of pain. The pain soon becomes familiar, and they just accept that as a normal state of being. Do not confuse familiar with normal. This applies to physical, mental, and emotional pain as well. Proper intervention, I’m not talking about medications or surgery either, can make a world of difference. Once you start to do the work, you may experience discomfort.
Learning to recognize the difference between discomfort and pain is part of the process.
It’s against my religion
This is a question that only you can answer. For some, yoga is a deeply personal experience that satisfies their spiritual needs. For others, they find it is a beautiful compliment to their religious beliefs. Secular students just want to sweat or stretch for an hour and then go on their way. After some study, you may find it’s incompatible with your ideology, and that’s ok! I just ask that you keep an open mind. Here some experts weigh in. You can also learn a lot from this written debate.
If you have pre-conceived notions about what yoga is or is not, we encourage you to find out for yourself. Everything new is scary at first. Choose the parts that work for you and ditch the rest! See you on the mat.