As yoga practitioners we’ve all, at some point, come across one or more of the following stereotypes. More often than not, we may have been influenced by them. Let’s take a closer look at some of them, decode them and see yoga for what it really is.
1. Yoga mats
While a yoga mat is important it does not necessarily have to be a Rs.7000 mat made with organic material and smell like a herb garden. All one really needs is a clean mat having a good grip on the floor. Traditionally, woollen blankets (often less than Rs.500 per blanket) are used as they not only provide the right amount of cushioning but also act as natural insulators.
2. Yoga pants
It has become almost blasphemous for women to be seen doing yoga without the right pair of tight yoga pants (slacks). What is up with this? Where and when did we shake off the concept of loose cotton clothes for a healthy practice? It is about time that we stop skipping that yoga class only because our favourite pair of yoga pants is in the laundry. Come on! Just slip in to those comfy cotton pajamas that allow your skin to breathe for a comfy yoga practice.
3. Painful yoga
‘Pain pleasure yoga’ is probably not what Patanjali had in mind when he wrote the words “sthiram sukham asanam”. An asana is about stillness, awareness, and regulated breathing. Causing the body stress and pain to be able to achieve a posture is NOT yoga. Till the final objective of practice remains anything other than stillness of the mind, yogasana is not being performed. Weight loss, a healthy body, strong muscles, etc, are only therapeutic bi-products of yoga.
4. Studios with mirrors…everywhere!
It is absolutely great to be a part of a fancy studio and shell out wads of notes to a yoga teacher but what isn’t cool are the mirrors. Having mirrors in yoga classes is the worst distraction possible. A competitive practitioner might push too hard to be better than a super flexible neighbour, and a person who is self-conscious might stop attending classes altogether. Trust your teacher. Let them be the only mirrors you need.
5. The religion of yoga
Let us, please, once and for all clear things up. Yoga is NOT Hindu. It might have been discovered by or revealed to people who happen to be followers of Hinduism but it is by no means Hindu. It does not have a religion. It does not convert people to Hinduism. It does not cause us to be less faithful to our own religion. It does not even mean that a person practising yoga has a “Hindu bent of mind” (whatever that means). Yoga is simply a way of life.
So, let go of all stereotypes, expectations, and money-making schemes. Just enjoy this wonderful union of the body, mind and soul that we call Yoga.