Yoga For Beginners? Common Myths

Common mistakes and misunderstandings about yoga?

Yoga is a very popular form of exercise and spiritual balance, but it is often understood by many people. This is almost inevitable when you consider the amazing popularity of yoga as a discipline and the many different strands that yoga has. Often people will have experience with one type of yoga but not another, thus they will base their overall impression of yoga on what they have seen. It's like people base their impression of Germans on the most famous German they know - Adolf Hitler, or more recently the international portrayal of George Bush as the only example of an American anyone knows. The truth is, yoga can be very different depending on who you learn it and how they view it. This article covers learning yoga for beginners and some common misconceptions in it.

First Misconception: Yoga is a form of exercise.

Well yes it is, but walking is like this. I can walk from my sofa to my table and can barely claim to have done my daily workouts. The truth is, exercise is just the beginning of what yoga is. It's akin to a combination of exercise, physical therapy, psychology, and spirituality all rolled into one. When you come to master yoga, you will need to become more and more mentally strong, and most importantly, disciplined. If you can set yourself up to do regular yoga sessions, maintain your discipline to do each posture on time, and do it right, then you will naturally become a very disciplined and organized person. For some people, this transcends the spiritual level because they are competent and purify their thoughts while meditating.

Second Misconception: Yoga for Hippies.

As mentioned earlier, yoga can be a very spiritual experience if you become good enough at clearing your thoughts and focusing while performing the exercises. But you certainly don't have to start with any spiritual belief. Yoga believes in aligning body, mind, and spirit through achieving inner balance. What this means to you may depend entirely on your beliefs already. For some people it will be an experience of spiritual liberation, for others it will be an effective method of stress and achieving a level of calm in thinking. Still others claim these things are one and the same.

Misconception Three: Yoga is a heresy.

Lately, there have been some very exhilarating yoga classes that are making big claims about what yoga can achieve. It's easy to relate to the frenzy of the other "fad" sport. However, yoga is nothing new and it is based on hundreds of years old documents describing exercises and poses that may have been performed for generations before then. An odd style of yoga may come and go, but as long as people still do the stretching exercises before a football match, yoga will still be in use.

4th Misconception: Yoga is too slow in helping me lose weight / gain tone etc.

This is far fetched, but we've been trained somewhat by the weight loss industry that losing weight, and coordinating our bodies is about hours in the gym and fast, high-impact workouts that's simply not true. Yoga can especially aid in weight loss and toning, for a number of reasons. First, exercises, despite their low impact and are performed either steady or slow - are still exercises. While using them, you use your muscles, and in many cases you use muscles and muscle groups that regular exercise programs ignore. The second way yoga can benefit a weight-loss program is that it increases your mental strength and allows you to be more disciplined in your food consumption. When it comes to excess weight, it is the result of overeating and insufficient physical exercise to burn those calories. Have you ever noticed how some people can eat a donut after a donut and not gain weight at all? It sounds unfair, but it is a natural consequence of their body condition. Usually these people are completely `` swollen '' and these muscles allow them to assimilate food faster. This is the third benefit of yoga for weight loss, as your muscles will become more efficient at consuming foods and converting them into nutrients and waste.

We hope we have some way to explain the various myths associated with yoga. When you learn yoga, for both beginners and experienced people, yoga is what you make of it.

Geoff Dempsey is a student of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. He studied and recited Kundalini Solstice ceremonies in New Mexico and Florida for 7 years and is currently practicing Qi Gong and Ancient Yogic Pranayam.