Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Yoga Myths

Q1. Yoga is a sport.
One of the important components of yoga is the practice of physical postures, known as asanas in Sanskrit. Due to this physical aspect of yoga, some people think of yoga as a sport or an activity akin to body building. In this sense, yoga is seen as a casual pastime which one can take up and practice now and then like any sport.

The fact is that yoga is the art and science of physical, mental and spiritual development. Although the yoga postures may look like the stretching exercises found in some sports. The exercises in yoga are one part of an all-around program of personal development. The postures are not an end in themselves, but are meant to help prepare one's body for mental and spiritual development.

Q2. I have to be agile to practice yoga.

Yoga really has nothing to do with being flexible. Postures are created to heal or maintain the health and vitality of the places they expose. If you are carrying a lot of tension in an area that a pose exposes, the tension will release, and your range of motion will increase. Yet, if there is no tension in the area, there is no need to release any, and the pose's job is now to maintain its tension free status as well as create stimulation, which facilitates circulation which promotes oxygenation which is a prerequisite for regeneration as well as flushing out toxicity. The goal is to maintain vitality, not to create flexibility. Too much flexibility creates a state of instability and that's not healthy.

Q3. Yoga and Stretching are the same.

The goal of stretching is to become limber. The goal of yoga is to develop greater and greater awareness. Awareness in this sense is not a lofty "new age" concept. It is a grounded experience that can be measured by the ability to do different movements in different areas of the body at the same time. At first when we practice asanas, we are captivated by the intensity of the stretch itself. But soon we become aware of more than just the stretch. We begin to sense subtle differences in the body. We see relationships in the body that have a large influence on our movement, physical ease, and even our mental state. This is the development of mindfulness that naturally comes from the physical practice of asanas and pranayama. Yoga is the development of awareness through physical practice.

Q4. Yoga is a religion.
Yoga is not a religion. It is just a practice like prayer, meditation, or lighting candles which can be used by people from many religions (or none at all). While traditional yoga focuses more on the spiritual, today many people use purely physical yoga just for exercise. Yoga promotes freedom, so you should not be held bondage to someone else's beliefs. You should be free to live whichever way is right for you.

Q5. Yoga is only for women.
In some parts of the world the majority of yoga students are women, and some men may have gotten the idea that yoga is not for them. The fact is that all people are searching for inner peace and all people wish to avoid disease and live a healthy life. Yoga offers something for anyone who wishes an effective method of physical, mental or spiritual development and should not be thought of as a discipline reserved only for women or only for men.

Q6. Yoga should be practiced only in the morning.
There is no hard fast rule of practicing yoga only in the morning. You can practice yoga in the afternoon also, but your stomach should be empty while practicing. This condition makes the early morning most suited for practice. The evening time about 4 hours after lunch is also suitable for practice, provided no additional food is taken in between.

Q7. It is good to practice yoga postures outdoors.
When you perform yoga properly your body becomes very sensitive to shifts in temperature. If you practice outside your house even a slight breeze may be enough to make you uncomfortable or even catch cold. It is best to practice indoors. The windows may be open but you should stay away from drafts. In summer it is best to turn off fans while practicing yoga postures.

Q8. I have to be a Hindu to practice Yoga.
No, absolutely not. You don't need to be a Hindu to practice yoga. People from any religion or faith can practice yoga. Yoga is a spiritual science which is very universal in its approach. It can be practiced by individuals of all creeds and with any set of beliefs. Yoga can help you deepen your spiritual life no matter what your religion.

Q9. Everybody must practice the same postures.
Not necessarily. Yoga needs to be personalized according to one's own need and physical structures. Thus it is best to perform yoga postures that are individually suited to a particular individual. Thus the postures performed by man suffering from asthma will be totally different from the needs of a woman suffering from heart problems.

Thus in order to perform yoga correctly, it is best to find a teacher who is able to prescribe the postures that are best suited to your particular needs.


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