4 yoga myths for beginners
Interested in yoga but something is stopping you? Well, you are not alone. Does any of these sound familiar to you?
- I am not flexible so I cannot do yoga
- I will embarrass myself in a group class
- Yoga is for females
- (This one for English speakers living in Tokyo) I can’t find English yoga classes in Tokyo
There are many types of yoga – more physical, more stretchy, more relaxing, etc. Whatever the style, yoga helps you regulate your body and your mind. Just like anything new you want to try, you will need to explore yourself and no one can drag you into it. But I hope the below will give you some good hints.
1. I am not flexible so I cannot do yoga… We do yoga not because we are flexible. We do yoga because we are “not” flexible. None of us was born to be flexible. The story may be different for people who did gymnastics at a young age, but most of us didn’t! The reality is, those yogi’s who might look flexible to you, they probably started where you are. Don’t let that thought stop you from doing something good. Indeed, yoga is not only about flexibility. It is also about building strength (especially in more active classes like mine), practicing good breathing patterns, and meditating. All of them have proven benefits to help you stay physically and emotionally healthy.
2. I will embarrass myself in a group class… Yoga is about self-regulation. It is such a waste of energy to compare yourself with the person next to you, because you practice yoga for “you”, not that person next to you. Why focus on someone else when you can focus on you. I always tell my students that the goal is not touching your toes or standing on your hands. The goal of every practice is that you are moving your body that it feels good, and you are working on your breath that it feels good, and you are focusing/calming your mind that it feels good. Doesn’t really matter if you can touch your toes or stand on your hands.
3. Yoga is for females… Yoga allows you to practice physical strength and emotional strength. If females are the only people who can practice yoga, it would be sooooo unfair! (lol). I understand that a lot of studios in Japan may be more female-centric, and it may feel intimating to go into a practice with a bunch of ladies. Guys, go find a studio that makes you feel comfortable! Did you know thousands of years ago when yoga started in India, it was mainly practiced by men? Indeed, when you go to the western world, it is very common to see men in a yoga room. Funny enough, the very first person who invited me to a yoga class 15 years ago was a guy friend. I have to give him credit for having changed my life!
4. I can’t find English yoga classes in Tokyo… It IS hard to find an English studio! As a gaijin (“foreigner”) living in Tokyo for 1.5+ decade, I have really struggled with that. The good news is, Tom and I offer fully bilingual classes here at IYC Omotesando. Hatha yoga classes, led by Tom, focus on poses and breathing at a slower, more deliberate pace. Vinyasa yoga classes, led by me (Joey), focus on breathing but with a more dynamic (faster) set of movements.