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5 Yoga Myths, Debunked.

Yogini Laurel Erilane @yoginilaurel

Even though yoga has skyrocketed in popularity over the years, many people still worry that it isn't for them. There are many common misconceptions when it comes to this age-old practice, which is why it is so important that we debunk these myths and ultimately get the practice to those that need it most.

Yoga is for everyone and its benefits extend well beyond physical wellness. Yoga is for the mind, body and spirit and all can benefit throughout their entire lives.

Here are five of the most common yoga myths, explained, and debunked!

1. I can't do yoga because I am not flexible.

When she hears "I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible,” Yoga Wake Up instructor Laurel Erilane says, "That’s like saying “I’m dirty, so I shouldn’t take a shower.”

It just doesn’t make any sense.

If you're not flexible (yet), yoga is an incredible way to ease into flexibility, starting slow and taking the time your body needs to improve flexibility. Especially as we age, our mobility decreases and we're more prone to injury resulting from tight muscles and rigidity.

Yoga is about finding greater longevity-- it’s actually considered a fountain of youth as it is the most primal and instinctual thing you can do to open up your body, Laurel explains.

"The simple fact is, if you don’t move it, you are going to lose it."

2. Yoga is expensive.

Over the last several years yoga has become trendy and as a result, there are many studios that are meeting the demand by charging higher prices for classes. However, yoga is very simply between you and your body, and therefore can be practiced anywhere at any cost. If budget is an issue, many studios offer discounted rates and donation-based classes.

Apps like Yoga Wake Up are also making yoga more accessible and affordable. Many offer annual subscriptions deeply discounted (a year of Yoga Wake Up is $54.99, or less than $5/month!) Youtube also has many completely free online classes. A favorite of ours is Heart Alchemy Yoga with Michelle Goldstein, also a Yoga Wake Up instructor.

3. I don't have time for yoga.

If you started practicing yoga 10 years ago, classes were traditionally 90 minutes to two hours, and were quite intensive. For example, Bikram's 26 x2 poses were time-consuming and extremely regimented. One need the entire 90 minutes just to complete the sequence! Traditional methods such as Ashtanga were built on discipline, and as a result are practiced at sunrise.

But just as we have evolved, yoga has evolved with us and in an effort to make it accessible to more people, offerings have expanded. Many studios now offer "lunch hour" yoga for just 50 minutes and apps like Yoga Wake Up let you choose sequences that fit within your time limitations and still reap the benefits. Research has shown that even just 20 minutes of yoga can increase brain function by improving focus, speeding up information processing, and improving memory.

4. But isn't it just all about handstands and other crazy poses?

Well, we have Instagram to thank for that. But believe it or not, yoga is about breath, and that's something we ALL can do. When you are linking breath to movement, known as "asana" you are practicing yoga!

It's unfortunate that many people nowadays associate yoga with inversions and acrobatics because it is ultimately intimidating and alienates those of us that cannot or choose not to invert. But consider this-- one of the most well known and basic postures Downward Dog is an inversion and you can reap the benefits of inverting without going upside-down.

Bottom Line: Don't let your ego be the boss. Instagram is not an honest or accurate representation of what you will see in a yoga class. Since a lot of people discover the physical benefits of this practice as they age, classes can vary in experience level and there is no one-kind-of-person that practices. Yoga is a very inclusive practice and open to everyone.

That said, many classes do offer a few minutes for students to invert as they please and this can be a nice time to play with going upside down or practice Viparita Karani AKA "legs up the wall", an incredibly restorative inversion that you might not see it on Instagram, but is definitely one of the best!

THIS is actually an inversion! AND this is yoga!

5. But I am not spiritual.

Raise your hand if you shied away from yoga because it felt too "hippy-dippy". Many classes feature chanting or meditation, and yoga can sometimes feel like worship (enter "sun salutations"). However, as with time and difficulty level, yoga also comes in many, many different forms, and there is something for everyone. What can help is trying intro offers from different studios and getting your feet wet with different instructors until you find one that feels right to you!

You just might discover that after deepening your physical yoga practice, you feel called to deepen your spiritual connection to yoga. And if you do not, that is OK too-- your practice is yours and all that matters is that you find something that keeps YOU coming back to the mat.