Can I do yoga? What if I can’t even sit with my legs crossed? But isn’t it kind of cultish? Do I have to drink some kind of kombucha-kale-yogurt water afterward? These are all natural things to think of before your first yoga class. To clear up any misconceptions about the practice, we felt like we should dispel five commons ones before you drop into downward dog.
Myth: You have to be flexible to do yoga
Probably one of the biggest reasons people stay away from the mat is thinking that their inability to touch their toes means they won’t get anything out of yoga. Just like any other skill, yoga takes practice, and the more you go, the more flexible you’ll get. If you’re really worried about your lack of range of motion, find an instructor that’s especially good with beginners and can offer modifications to kick-start your practice.
Myth: You have to be thin to do yoga
Another damaging myth. You do not have to be thin to do yoga--it can be beneficial and enjoyable regardless of your size. For evidence, look to women like the awesome Jessamyn Stanley, a plus-size yogi who uses her Instagram account to dispel this particular myth. If you are uncomfortable hopping into a studio full of six-packs, seek out studios like Nashville’s Curvy Yoga, which offers classes specifically for plus-size women to get rid of the stigma.
Myth: Yoga isn’t really a workout
The truth: Sure, some practices focus on calmed, relaxed movements aimed at centering the body and mind, but others, like hot power yoga, are very physically challenging and fitness-y. Whichever side of the spectrum you choose, you'll be practicing focused breathing (a surefire way to spike your heart rate) and improving your strength, flexibility and balance--making it an excellent supplement to those boot-camp classes you love.
Myth: Yoga is sneakily religious
Though yoga started in India with strong ties to Buddhism and Hinduism, yoga in America today is largely secular. It can be spiritual or religious, of course, if you want it to be, but the majority of studios and teachers default to a practice that is focused on the physical.
Myth: Men don’t do yoga
Au contraire. Yoga was actually created by men thousands of years ago. Over time, though, many men shunned the practice, citing their inflexibility, yoga’s too-gentle nature and the New Agey aspects of chanting as reasons for staying out of the studio. In recent years, however, more and more guys, including many professional athletes, have started recognizing its benefits and jumping on the bandwagon. If all else fails, channel Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.