Curious about yoga but think you’re too inflexible or everyone will be watching to see what an un-co you are? Let us bust those myths right now.
If you’ve never done yoga before, it can feel a little intimidating. Isn’t it the workout of choice for people who eat really healthy and generally have their lives together? No need to worry, though, we spoke to one of Australia’s leading yogis Kate Kendall has dispelled some myths about yoga people new to the practice often get wrong.
You can be good or bad at yoga
As varied as the human population, there is no wrong way to do a pose, nor is there such thing as being bad at yoga.
“Instead of trying to get things ‘right’ in our downward facing dogs, perhaps we instead treat it as a question mark each time we come to it,” says Kendall.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
“From one day to the next your down dog is going to feel different anyway. There is no perfect way to nail a pose.”
Props are just for beginners
Props are for everyone, says Kendall. They’re enhancements for beginners right to the more seasoned yogis: blocks can deepen your stretch and bolsters can open up the body.
“Props are a powerful way to supercharge anyone’s practice, add support and often a way to bring the earth to you,” explains Kendall.
Yoga ends when you walk out the door
The practice of yoga should trickle through your everyday life and interactions, not just the time you spend in a class says Kendall. It truly is a way of life if you want it to be.
“You can, if you choose to, take the practice with you into all of your conversations and to-do’s,” she says.
“The practice of presence that you cultivate in class can be extended off the mat, it can be used to create space before reaction when someone cuts you off in traffic, it can be used to listen to your partner or child when they just want to be heard.”
Forgetting to breathe
“I know this sounds silly, but you would be surprised how often I notice people holding their breath,” says Kendall, “and I know, because I used to and still do sometimes when I move into an uncomfortable posture.”
We often hold our breath when we’re in a state of stress and experiencing an uncomfortable stretch or posture can cause us to be just that. But you’ll find that if you breathe through your discomfort it’ll dissipate much faster. For every breath out, our muscles relax with the increase in oxygen.
“Breathing is probably the simplest but most profound change you can make to your practice and is the difference between walking out of class feeling OK and feeling Yoga stoned – the latter being that state in which you feel alive, yet calm and mentally clear. The best,” says Kendall.
Everyone’s watching you
Oh, haven’t we all been there? Much like going for a massage or a body wax, we can’t help but feel self-conscious. But rest assured, no one in your yoga class is looking at you or judging you.
“I remember how awkward and strange it felt and how I thought I must have looked so silly in my first few classes,” recalls Kendall.
“The thing is though, no one’s really watching you. The more advanced practitioners are ‘present’ and the other beginners and too concerned with trying to watch the teacher to learn what to do. Be as goofy as you need. Like anything, practice makes progress.”
Kate Kendall is one of Australia’s leading yoga instructors, an author, and the co-founder and director of yoga at Flow Athletic.