For some, the idea of yoga class conjures up images of people sitting cross-legged on the floor with their hands out to their sides while humming. But it’s much more than that, and yoga fever has spread across the nation, particularly with baby boomers, as its health benefits become more widely known.
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Despite yoga’s surge in popularity, there are still quite a few misconceptions about this ancient method of self transformation. Dada Vedaprajinananda, is a yoga and meditation teacher with more than 40 years of experience, and has heard every misconception out there when it comes to yoga.
Here are his top myths surrounding the practice of yoga:
1. 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.
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2. The physical side of yoga is the most important part: Although the practice of yoga postures is the most commonly known aspect of yoga, it is not the most important part. In fact, the ancient system of yoga begins with the understanding and practice of moral precepts and living a life in harmony with self and society.
The foundation of yoga lies on the observance of principles such as not harming others, acting in the spirit of welfare, non stealing, non accumulation of excessive physical wealth, viewing all things as an expression of Consciousness, purity of mind, contentment, and selfless service.
If you can learn how to live in harmony with those around you, and at the same time work on your own inner development, then the other components of yoga (postures, concentration and meditation) can be practiced with the best possible effects.
3. 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.