Yoga is a very well known form of physical exercise and mental discipline, but a lot of people don’t understand Yoga and what is involved. This is not surprising when you look at the amazing popularity of Yoga as a discipline and the multitude of variations that Yoga has. Often people try out one type of Yoga only, and so they will base their overall opinion of Yoga on what they have experienced. This can be likened to people basing their knowledge of an issue in the world solely from the TV news – when the angle taken by the news organization has exaggerated the truth. The truth is that Yoga can be many things to many people especially in light of its commercialization, and so who teaches them and how they learn will naturally color how they understand Yoga.
Let’s look at some of these common mistaken ideas:
Mistake 1: Yoga is just another craze
Part of the popularity of Yoga is the emergence of some overhyped courses claiming the big things that Yoga can achieve. To commercialize Yoga some people bastardize the practice. This tends to devalue Yoga because it then becomes associated with the many other exercise crazes. Unfortunately another exercise discipline called Pilates is another victim of this commercialization.
Yoga, however, is certainly not new and is based on documentation that is hundreds of years old that describes exercises, routines and poses that were probably being practiced for many generations before that. Yoga is a dynamic practice and as such an individual style may come and go, but for example, as long as sports players still do their stretches and extensions before they compete, Yoga will still be used.
Mistake 2: Yoga is for Hippies.
Yoga can be a form of meditation if you become practiced at relaxing or clearing your mind of thoughts and focusing on this mental state while you go through your exercises. But no way is it a prerequisite for you to begin your Yoga sessions in this way. The first principles of Yoga are to position the spirit, the mind and the body in one plane by obtaining inner balance. You see, what is meant by spirit, mind and body being on one level, will vary amongst individuals because it will relate to what their perception is already, or to how well they understand Yoga.
– To some people it will be a spiritually liberating experience.,
– To some people they won’t see the distinction between mind and spirit.
– To some people it will be a de-stressing experience resulting in a relaxation of the mind.
Mistake 3: Yoga is just another exercise.
Yes Yoga is exercise but it is way more than that. You can walk to your car – you have exercised, but that is not what is meant by exercise. You could say that Yoga starts or begins with exercise. Yoga, as you may have gathered is mixture of exercise, physiotherapy, spirituality and psychotherapy all together. As you develop your mastery of Yoga there is a need to work on your mental strength and perhaps more important to develop your self discipline. If you can continue to undertake Yoga sessions, and for each one have the discipline to strike each pose correctly and maintain each pose for the set time, then it will be a natural progression for you to become a disciplined, calm and an organized person who can understand Yoga. So from what has been discussed so far you can realize there is a progression that people go through and this varies depending on the individual. For some practitioners the disciplined and organized level will be replaced by a higher spiritual level because they are so effective at removing all thoughts from their minds whilst meditating.
Mistake 4: Yoga is too controlled and slow to allow me to lose weight and gain muscle.
This is probably the biggest mistake of all and a major reason why people don’t understand Yoga. Ever seen an overweight Yoga practitioner? There has been a certain amount of brainwashing by the very active weight loss industry that to lose weight and gain muscle you need to spend a lot of time in the gymnasium working on high impact, aerobic exercises – you know, a lot of puff and sweat. But as with anything, there is usually more than one way to achieve a desired result.
Yoga is an excellent means of losing weight and is particularly suited to increasing muscle tone for several reasons:
– It is true the exercise or posture routines are undertaken slowly but this is very good exercise because physical balance is being practiced, and the targeting of the muscle groups is very specific and systematic, so muscles are exercised that regular exercise programs may overlook.
– For those who stick at it, Yoga is very good for weight loss because it strengthens their mental resolve and so they become more disciplined with their diet.
– We all know too well that being overweight is a result of too much energy in, and not enough activity to use up that excess energy. You will know some people who can eat like a horse but never put on weight- and this tends to get up your nose, because all you need to do is look at food and you put on weight! These people have a higher metabolic rate and so use up the energy they consume more rapidly. Yoga develops active muscle, and this increases your metabolic rate so your body will use more energy and you will find that you will lose weight.
I hope this short discussion has enabled you to understand Yoga and what it actually is. Yoga covers a broad area and really people can use the parts of Yoga they enjoy or that suit their physical exercise goals. In this way Yoga becomes what they make of it.