There are so many misconceptions about yoga that you may be asking yourself, “Why do people do yoga in the first place. Why does doing yoga benefit us so much?”
Some of the misconceptions about yoga are mostly marketing and advertising. Like how yoga is a culture and how you must be the size of a tooth pick and be vegan and be so flexible that you are like Gumby and enjoy saying “OOOOMMMM.” A lot. Many people can’t even imagine this as a life style that they would enjoy.
Yet, I grew up in a town that was known for having a yoga studio on every corner. Living in this culture, Designer yoga clothes and OM tattoos were a status symbol. I have seen so many variations of om tattoos, I can’t even tell you.
Even though, in my town, there were yoga studios on every corner, I grew up doing yoga at home using videos. Why did I do this? Because, going to yoga classes in my home town made me too self-conscious. I am a bit of an introvert too and I did not even like my family to watch me.
I did not feel comfortable in tight yoga pants. I did not like to be touched by teachers adjusting me in class and the overwhelming crowds made me dizzy and claustrophobic. Yet, I still loved doing yoga.
In addition to doing yoga most of my life I grew up a Tibetan Buddhist. Meditation was a usual thing in my life. When I went to a yoga class at my local rec center and we ended with an “om” and I used to have to hide my laughter. Why? Because, chanting for me was a deeply spiritual practice that I had often seen misrepresented in the media.
I understood the difference between the marketed version of something sacred and the actual sacredness of a process like yoga and meditation. And honestly I didn’t like how these sacred practices were being corrupted. We often don’t realize how these thing are being branded for sales, versus there authentic application to your wellbeing and this has caused a lot of confusion about what exactly is yoga…..
When I moved to VT in my 20’s I began a more regular yoga practice. It was the first time that I had found the calming, stress reliving feeling that I had been looking for. Somehow, my yoga practice had deepened into what ancient yoga teacher’s spoke of not what marketing and advertising want us to believe about yoga.
What I found out was, my whole life people had been telling me that meditation was so calming. I did experience some of that benefit. However, for me and many of us who grew up with meditation, it allowed me to see the things that I had been hiding that I did not necessarily want to see. So of course calm was not always the feeling I got after meditation.
Yoga was different because I always felt calm, destressed, and rejuvenated. This helped me in every way. I had more focus, and was a better mom, wife and friend because of I was having the time to have my whole being body, mind and spirit align. In yoga I call that “Our whole being moving at the same speed.” And this is what produces wellbeing.
In this fast paced world we live in, most of the time our bodies, minds and our spirits are moving at 3 different speeds and we most of the time are unaware of it and how it causes stress as well as affects our health.
Most people don’t know how to destress their lives when their whole being is moving at 3 different speeds. I once asked a friend how to de-stress without yoga or meditation and “he told me to go home and have a beer and listen to the sex pistols.”
Like most people I know, stress has been a constant challenge for me. And this is where things can begin to fall apart. Stress and self-doubt, plagued me even as a small child. When I put in a yoga video, my stress would stop for a while. I did not care what my body looked like, I was able to be friends with myself. Even if it was just for the duration on the video and this is the secret about yoga.
When my yoga practice become more regular, I started seeing a profound difference in my results and my level of happiness. Not only in my flexibility but my outlook in life. I knew had I found the tool to help me deal with my stress and anxiety as well as create my happiness and wellbeing.
I felt more connected and at ease with my body in a way that I have never felt before. My deep seeded body issues started shifting as I started to become friends with my body instead of just hating it. I felt for the first time in my life that I was friendly with my body. My mind and body were moving together rather than fighting for control from one another.
Right then I knew I wanted to share my new level of wellness and happiness with as many people as I could. I wanted to dispel the myths about yoga and support others in finding their wellness and happiness too.
When I did my teacher training, I knew I had found my calling. I am fortunate enough to be able to share yoga with others, without having to subject people to body shaming, high pressure gyms or false standards that don’t represent authentic yoga.
Because yoga has become such a hyped, trendy fad, I see it losing its integrity. People are more concerned with having the latest yoga pants and getting into the perfect scorpion pose that they have lost the true meaning of simply becoming friends with your body.
Yoga means yoke or union. The mind and the body become one. We slow down enough to make friends with ourselves. Even if it is just for the duration of a class or video. The more we do yoga the longer the friendship can last. We take that feeling off the mat. If we spend an entire class competing with the person on the mat next to us, we have no time to make friends with ourselves.
In my studio I promote healthy safe movements. It is not about doing the pose “perfectly”, it is about having the space to feel ourselves. As long as they are performing an asana safely, they have the freedom to express themselves however they chose.
We focus on working with our bodies not shaming them. We invite everyone into the studio, young, old, thin, thick, flexible, tight, rich, poor. They are all welcome at Rising Spirit Yoga. When new students call and ask what to bring to a class, I ask them to wear comfortable clothing and an open mind. Join me to find out how you can start making friends with yourself.