Misconceptions of Yoga
Yoga has taken Western culture by storm, especially within the last decade, and with that I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. One of the downfalls is that the teachings have started to become slivers of what they once were -- a watered down version, like a game of telephone. Regardless of this observation, the most important thing when on the mat is making a true connection with yourself, allowing compassion and mindfulness to blossom. With the knowledge that has been passed down to me by my teachers, as well as the navigation of my own internal compass, I have had a few truths unfold in my years of studying that I’d like to share... the did-you-knows and say-whaaaats?
Don’t sweat it.
If you’re sweating then you’re not doing yoga -- well at least you’re not in a state of yoga. That’s right! If you’re sweating your body is working too hard. There should be a lightness and ease to your practice with just the right amount of alertness, also called Sthira and Sukha.(The Heart of Yoga, Chapter 4 PG 25) This, however, will vary with the temperature of your environment, and it’s natural for beginners to sweat since the body is ridding itself of toxins. Eventually through practice this will stop. If you do find yourself sweating, see it as a way of the body telling you to slow down, check in, and rest.
If your heart rate is higher at the end of class you are not doing yoga.
Your heart rate should stay the same or be a little slower through out your practice, but most definitely slower at the end. (**It’s natural for beginners' heart rates to vary. If your heart rate does speed up this is your body telling you that you might be working too hard. Remember to slow down, rest, and come back to your breath.)
Yoga only deals with the body.
Not true, asana (posture) is only 1 of the 8 limbs. Asana is meant as a tool for healing the body, ridding it of ailments and maintaining health in order to keep the mind focused. (The Heart of Yoga Chapter 1, PG. 7)
Yoga is not meant to be a workout or dance.
You might be rewarded with fabulous abs and a perky butt once you’ve practiced for long enough, but you might not despite how long you’ve practiced. The practice of yoga transcends the physical body. It helps you to deepen and embetter your relationship with yourself and with those around you. (The Heart of Yoga Chapter 3, PG 23)
There is a style of yoga out there for everyone. Life will still have its ups and downs. It can be messy, fueled with laughter and tears, late nights and early mornings, but you’ll have a handle on it. Most importantly, keep coming back to your mat and let the beauty of yoga open itself to you. Remember to stay true to yourself, your roots and your practice. The rest will fall into place.