Krishna Raju, ShuddhiYoga
There is a lot of buzz around Yoga in recent years, and more now after UN declared June 21st as International Yoga Day! The good news is that Yoga is finding more followers and thereby benefactors. Yoga in its full sense is “ways to realise the self”. However, for the sake of this discussion, lets only consider yoga the way vast populations are using it as : practice of certain āsanas - postures, prānāyāma - regulated breathing and dhyāna - meditation. Just like around other disciplines many myths surround yoga too. Research has shown contrary evidence, but well myths are made-up stories and mankind has always loved to tell and hear stories. Further, the region where you live in or the exposure you have to Yoga practitioners and centres will determine which myths you have heard more. I have lived primarily in South Indian cities and also spent time in the Americas and East Asian countries. Here are my top 5 picks.
1. Results take too much time
This is the most common myth about Yoga. Lets look at cognitive performance first. Researchers from the University of Illinois reported that a single 20 minutes basic Hatha Yoga session significantly improved participants’ speed and accuracy on tests of ability to maintain focus and on working memory. Participants performed significantly better immediately after the yoga practice than after moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Such research efforts around the world continue to prove the immediate and prolonged effects of yoga practice.
Yoga practice complimented by a healthy diet is a perfect regimen for weight management and maintaining a toned body. There is enough research evidence suggesting that fat loss can be achieved by both prolonged low intensity as well as high intensity workouts. There are Yoga routines to engage in both types of workouts. So weight loss or toning can surely be achieved in quick time.
Women still outnumber men in Yoga classes though the ratio is less alarming in recent years. For some reason, most men would like to hit the gym and believe that Yoga is for women, and not really a masculine exercise system. But all practitioners realise how much strength and muscle endurance yoga has helped them develop. Interestingly enough, a good number of guys who sustain gym or other sport injuries rehabilitate through Yoga and many never go back to lifting weights. Surely, just practicing Yoga alone doesn't get you a body suitable to win a bodybuilding title or become a wrestler or weightlifter. Many male professional rugby, football, basketball, runners, cyclists and athletes use Yoga as a complimentary work out to train physically and mentally to optimise performance. So clearly Yoga is as good for tough men as it is for women!
3. Yoga is slow and boring
There is so much to Yogic sciences, that one lifetime is too less a time to explore, share, experiment and live it. The Astanga Vinyasa Style of Yoga consists of dynamic flows and synchronised breathed which is aerobic in nature. Postural Yoga alone has so many styles or approaches like classical Hatha Yoga ,Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, Yin Yoga … For that matter, just incorporating a couple of the eight steps of Astanga Yoga into one’s life alone can open up dimensions we never thought existed!
4. One has to start early
You could start practicing Yoga practice at practically any age. There are more than a handful of practices to suit anyone. Yes, it is true that advanced postures require strength, flexibility , balance and dedicated practice. But to reap physical health and mental well being benefits from Yoga, getting into the most difficult poses is not necessary. In fact Yoga being a contemplative body-mind practice, could be a great support tool for the elderly compared to purely physical exercises. During the years when various ailments and feeling of loneliness sets in, mindful yoga practice brings a general sense of well being.
In Postural yoga you do not lift more than your own body weight. Far lesser injuries are reported from Yoga practice compared to weight training, machines based workouts, or other sports in general. However, you could very well sustain injuries while practicing yoga. Trying to push the body beyond its current abilities, or overworking a particular body part may result in fractures, muscle tears etc. While practicing balancing asanas, you could very well fall down and hurt yourself. So slowly working your way up must be the approach. The same applies to regulated breathing practices. Guided practice, more importantly when one is new is recommended. Improper practice could adversely affect nervous system and functioning of internal organs.
Pick up your mat and start practicing ! Wish you all “the very best” with your Yoga practice !! OM
The author Krishna Raju
is founder of ShuddhiYoga,
an initiative to bring practical, affordable health programs based on Yogic Sciences to everyone.
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook : Facebook/KrishnaRaju
Phone : 91 9845105079