Yoga has created a buzz in almost all parts of the world and has become the new cool even in the most modern cities around the globe. The popularity is well deserved mainly because yoga has passed the test of time and has healed people in different aspects of their lives – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social. We see people from all possible backgrounds adapting yoga to enhance their lives and promoting it too, but the real question is that – “Is Yoga for you?”.
Let us explore some common concepts that people have about yoga.
Is It Only for the Spiritual Types
Everyone who is alive on this planet is a spiritual being. Even if you do not feel so, you are welcome to practice, observe and have your own experiences. You need not be from a certain country or a certain religion to get started with Yoga. Knowledge of ancient texts and the Sanskrit language can be an advantage but is definitely not a per-requisite or a necessity at any point to walk on the path of Yoga. Yoga is something that makes us centred, brings us back to our nature and connects us to our very soul.
While it is true that yoga has its early origins from India, its principles are universal. It doesn’t matter where one is born or brought up, or what language they speak. A little bit of interest, reverence, willingness and openness to learn something new is all that is needed. People from all the over the world with different cultural backgrounds have been enjoying the benefits of yoga.
Am I Physically Ready for Yoga?
It is true that yoga brings good physical health, most yogis are fit but it may not be how they started. No matter what is the shape and size of your body, you are eligible to include yoga in your daily life. Flexibility and strength are qualities that you can eventually develop with the help of yoga, you definitely do not need them to start. Of course, yoga has physical benefits and can definitely help you bring your body back in balance and eventually in the right shape and size.
Don’t be bogged down by the various posture demonstrations that you see on posters, websites and social media accounts. These can be used for inspiration but remember that Yoga is not a competition with others, it is totally a personal endeavor. Besides, yoga is not just limited to postures – they are just one aspect.
Do I Need to Be a Celibate, a Vegetarian & Free of Addictions?
Once you start understanding the importance of a good lifestyle and start following some of the practices, it automatically takes you in. Initially, you may not be in a situation to give up on the things that you have been living with and the lifestyle you are used to. You can start with one thing at a time and slowly build up. Ultimately, it is all about finding yourself and deep inside, you already know what is good for you. You can go ahead slowly and steadily. In fact, yogic practices have been found to be helpful in dealing with addictions too. All you need is a will to start and an open mind to explore what it has in store for you.
Yoga Seems Too Easy or Too Difficult for Me
Yoga can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ here. Everyone can have a customized routine that is optimized as per the capacity of the individual. Individual differences are not only accepted but celebrated. There is gentle as well as vigorous forms of yoga and you can make a choice based on your preference and capacity.
Yoga can be combined with any other exercise that you may find essential for yourself, but not at the same time. It is interesting to note that yoga is capable of both – filling you with energy and giving you peaceful rest as per your bodily needs.
Will My Health Challenges Prevent Me?
No, there are simpler variations of the postures (asanas) that everyone can follow. If you have pain or any other health issue that restricts movement, you can still start. And slowly you will find that things become easier for you.
Surya Namaskars are a widely popular form introduced to people as yoga, but there is much more to it. If you have any special condition or any challenge, feel free to talk to your instructor about it. A good teacher will respect your privacy but at the same time, guide you accordingly and suggest things that will benefit you especially. Yoga works beautifully for you if you focus on where you are and what you need to do.
Can I Do It along with My Busy Lifestyle?
If you think you are too busy, you need Yoga all the more. Yoga not only keeps your stress levels in check, it also gives you the clarity of mind to work smartly throughout the day. Yogic practices are known to increase intuitive ability that can stop one from making harmful decisions. By investing some of your time in yoga, you can actually end up accomplishing much more than you would do without it. There are many styles of breathing techniques (pranayamas), and meditations that increase your mindfulness in your day-to-day life. By practicing and living the knowledge that comes with it, anyone can lead a better life.
Am I Ready to Become a Yogi
One does not need to give up everything else to be a yogi. One of the many definitions of yoga calls it as ‘skill in action’. Whatever you are doing in life, yogic practices can help you do it more skillfully. When there is harmony between the thought, word and action, we become better communicators. We can manage our time better; we can negotiate better; we can delegate better. The list is endless. While being involved in the regular worldly activities all day, yoga helps you to breeze through it and find moments for yourself.
Do I Have to Buy the Dress and Equipment
Just like a perfect body is not a prerequisite to starting yoga, expensive, and perfectly matching clothes and accessories are definitely not needed if you want to start your journey with yoga. An open mind and willingness to learn something new are much more important than branded clothes and accessories when it comes to yoga. As a beginner, one only needs a basic anti-skid mat. Some accessories like blocks and belts can be used for the postures but wait for your instructor to suggest them.
The only guideline about clothing is that it should be loose, comfortable, and clean. You can choose from a variety of fabrics and styles; stretchable cotton garments are the popular choice with yoga practitioners. A neat and tidy appearance and pastel shades help you feel fresh and calm during a yoga session.
Is Yoga Gender- Specific?
It may appear that women are more flexible or are able to do some poses better than a few men. There would also be poses that give men some kind of advantage. Some postures are helpful for female organs and some for male organs. Saying that yoga is only for men or women would be an over-generalization.
Looking at the yogic approach, we understand that yoga is looking beyond the physical body. It is something that makes one realize that every living being is a part of the same creation. Yoga is a very personal journey and is customized for everyone at an individual level. Hence, you can be of any gender to get the benefits of yoga.
What Kind of Person are You?
Well, there is no denying that everyone who takes birth on this planet is born with their own mind. We have our own perspective to look at the world and our own definitions of a successful life. The good news is that yoga can benefit all different types of people. In fact, there are different approaches to yoga already laid out. It is like looking at the sun from different windows of your house. The sun is the same, but you can choose the scenery around it as you like best.
There are several approaches to yoga and most people are able to relate to at least one of them. One can solely choose a path of love or devotion called bhakti yoga and need not be bothered about the technicalities of yogic practices. If you have an intellectual approach, you can go deep into the scriptures and follow jnana yoga. Many who feel that service to mankind is the biggest form of worship are following karma yoga. Raja yoga is simply about living mindfully and Hatha yoga introduces one to a lot of kriyas or practices and techniques that can make our lives easier. If you have either of the above approach to life, then yoga is for you.
With all said and done, we can see that yoga is a door to endless possibilities. It can give you good health, a better lifestyle, exposure to an ancient science, and a fresh new perspective towards life. It totally depends on what you are looking for. To be able to figure out whether yoga is for you or not, you need to experience it once.