What is Yoga? Unveiling 3 popular misconceptions

Yoga with Chiara 12:06 pm
By | January 10, 2017

lotus yoga pose

When I tell people like my old-school dad that I practice yoga regularly, they often pull a face like “are you in a sect??” or “I didn’t know you were so spiritual”

People are scared of what they don’t know, of the Unknown, so they may dismiss it by thinking “it’s not for them”.

On the other hand, yoga is getting more and more popular in the Western world, and often classified as a sport/fitness activity.

So, the first thing that you’ll need to learn about yoga is: you can take yoga and your practice to whatever level you wish, and use it as it serves you best.

Start practicing, and your body will tell you what to do next. No kidding!

You can choose to practice it like any other sport if you’re only looking for physical activity, but you should also know that yoga is much more than that.

It’s a philosophy, a lifestyle, a habit. It’s NOT a religion though, as many would think!

It can become your daily routine, it can dictate what you eat, or it can simply help you live healthily.

If you’re still new to yoga, read on and learn the 3 biggest misconceptions that you may come across…

 

About choosing your food

Many people associate yogis with vegans, or vegetarians.

Yes, yogis eat healthy food, but don’t worry, you’ll still be able to enjoy your steaks even if you decide to go deeper into this discipline!

As yoga involves physical practice, and preaches that you can tell your mind what you like eating, you should only be eating what is good for you!

You could download here my 10 reasons why everyone should practice yoga to learn how yoga and eating healthy can help keep viruses and diseases away, slow down the ageing process, etc.

For the above reasons, many yogis decide to change their eating habits to healthier ones, often eliminating meat from their diet.

However, as long as you keep a balance between all the aliments, and you indulge in complex carbs and processed sugars mindfully, you will be absolutely fine even if what you put in your plate is not always green.

If you start practicing yoga regularly, again your body will tell you what it needs. And you might discover that you feel better when you have lighter, healthier meals instead of gulping down a pizza or a burger…

my favourite salmon and avocado salad

Personally, I feel much better since I’ve cut down on red meat to once a week, and most of my lunches look like the image on the left.

A base of green apple slices, fresh spinach, avocado and salmon, with a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil and pepper.

Try it, it’s so easy and quick to make!! 🙂

 

 

 

About “controlling the mind”

No, yoga doesn’t tell you what to think, but it might help on HOW to think and approach life.

If there was one book everyone should read, that is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda, who provides a modern commentary to the ancient scripture of sage Patanjali.

One of the most important paragraphs is Sutra 1.2, which defines yoga as “restraining the mind from chaos and distractions”.

More simply put, yoga is “the science to control the monkey mind”.

According to Sri Swami Satchidananda, our perception of the outside world is completely a product of the mind.

Therefore, if we learn to tell the mind how to think, or feel, we won’t be dependent on the outside world, and we’ll never have negative thoughts or emotions, because we can instruct the mind to not perceive things negatively.

Easier said than done, of course! That’s why the practice of yoga has a component of meditation.

You could meditate for hours, or days, but to get you started, yoga classes always begin with a few minutes of meditation, so we can learn to “train” our mind to calm down, and “teach it” how to think.

“Controlling” the mind is no easy task, and focusing on the breath is the first step to reach this goal. That’s why yoga is always about the breath, before anything else.

Go to any yoga class and you’ll understand what I’m referring to. 🙂

 

About chanting

Some other people wrongly associate yoga to just meditation and chanting.

Again, telling the mind what to do requires high levels of concentration and practice, and chanting mantras helps a lot.

Therefore, while chanting can help your concentration and practice, it’s not at all a requirement.

By all means it DOES NOT mean that you need to chant daily like an old monk!

So go to your first class with an open mind, and you’ll see it’s not as bad as you thought.

And if you’re still curious about why people chant during certain yoga classes, you may want to read this guide about chanting mantras.

 

About feeling… GOOD!

Whatever you decide to do with your yoga practice, ultimately, it will make you feel good in ways you could not even imagine.

Considering you can teach the mind and are free to decide what is good for you, it’s totally up to you what approach you should take: there is no right or wrong.

Yoga is good for everyone!

So if you haven’t read it yet, you should have a look at this post  immediately.

Personally, the reason why I love yoga so much is that it helps me zone out from the daily problems of life, and it physically makes me feel lighter, happier and even prettier sometimes.

 

What about you? How would you like to feel going forward? Or why do you practice yoga at all?

Do leave a Comment below and let us know!

Or, if you’d like a personalised FREE consultation, don’t hesitate to contact me here. I can’t wait to hear all about you!

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