The practice of yoga is thousands of years old. Once only practiced by monks, the acceptance of yoga has become global! Many cultures and all genders practice yoga in the modern-day. In fact, there are seemingly innumerable types of yoga, yoga studios, yogis, and yoginis everywhere! Given the seemingly universal fabric of yoga culture, practice, and support, it might seem hard to believe, but the fact is that having a yoga practice is simply NOT for everyone. And the fact that it isn’t is okay, too!
As someone who does maintain a regular yoga practice, I will attest to the belief that ‘yoga is for everyone’ is, actually, quite wrong! Now, before you immediately attack my hypothesis, let me elaborate on exactly what I mean by that belief!
If you have maintained a yoga practice that spans decades, then you’ve probably heard all of the ridiculous bullshit that accompanies the ‘so you’ve never tried yoga’ discussion. And it is plentiful! Let’s start with one of the more common sayings, shall we? “Yoga will change your life”. Well, so, too, will drinking antifreeze, but the effects are different! Perhaps a more obvious truth has never been spoken! But the implication is that yoga will (automatically) improve your life. That saying is basically worthless, as it requires a lot of elaboration and, alone, means little or nothing.
“Yoga accepts you where you are today”. Once again, here is yet another (basically) meaningless statement. What should we take that to mean? Is it, ‘I feel worthless and don’t want to struggle with anything today, so yoga is great for me’? Sure! Why is that? Because yoga doesn’t choose you, that’s why. A person has to be willing to pursue what yoga purportedly offers. Does the mindfulness happen once you’ve been in class a while?? Sure! However, please allow from 10 months to ten years of steady practice for the best results…and your results may vary. Yes, that IS also the truth!
Maybe it’s more important to start with some hard truths about yoga. Facts that can not (honestly) be disputed. For beginners, let me state (unequivocally) that yoga is HARD WORK, not child’s play (even in the respite of child’s pose)! Wait, “I’m tough as nails”, you say? Yeah, keep thinking that as your first class drags on for what seems like an eternity because it is neither simple nor easy! In fact, it’s tougher than you might imagine and can stop even the most muscular persons in their tracks!
Let me be completely honest. I’d bet a dollar that after completing your first yoga class you leave hating it!
How would I know? Because I did, that’s how! Make no mistake, yoga will try your patience like few things you may have experienced. Yoga can incite you to great frustration and even anger! I only relate this because some realism on the false panacea of yoga must be shared! A lot of people do not want the stress that yoga can produce within their lives. That is a fact! Some days, Shavasana (corpse pose) can’t arrive soon enough!
If you’re still reading out of curiosity, then you are most likely not faint of heart! I am not saying that yoga is not a beneficial practice! It has been a blessing within many persons’ lives. I find it amazingly challenging. After several decades of practice, I embrace ALL that yoga brings to my own life. I have a sense of mindfulness I never knew prior to yoga. I am fit, flexible, and have strong overall health. Many persons presume that I am younger than my age. I owe a great deal of my mental fortitude to my practice, and that has been worth any physical price I pay.
Do I support yoga? Yes, I do. Do I believe that it will help you, too? I don’t know the answer to that. Each person is different and you are a unique individual. You might simply LOVE yoga..or you may decide that it doesn’t work for you. After all, nobody knows you better than yourself! However, if you’ve never tried yoga, the experience alone is quite worthwhile.
There is no one-size-fits-all yoga practice. Developing good form takes time and practice. Many instructors are very hands-on in helping you to correct your form. Others seem to have a hands-off approach. My favorite yogini is very hands-on and she has made me look at my practice critically, so as to improve. Her warm, loving, compassionate, and encouraging style is one I embrace and has taught me to love yoga.
If you choose to pursue a yoga practice, be sure to try out different styles and classes, as you will find where you are the most comfortable! Once you are comfortable, you can reflect candidly and honestly on whether or not a yoga practice is right for your life!
Footnotes / Endnotes:
The F*cking Yoga Company – ‘Yoga for Everybody is Bullshit’ – https://theeffingyogablog.com/2017/11/09/yoga-for-everybody-is-bullshit/
Photo Attribution –
‘Saturday AM Yoga at the Alliance Greenmarket’ https://mindfulswfl.com/ – Wray BurgessI