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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 12 Common Misconceptions About Practicing Yoga

12 Common Misconceptions About Practicing Yoga

Reading Time: 5 minutes 45 seconds


DATE: 2023-02-24

From what it should cost to who it’s for, there are a lot of misconceptions about yoga. We asked 12 experts, CEOs, and yogis about the most common yoga myths they’ve heard and what they found to be the reality. Spoiler alert: It all comes down to what’s right for you! 

Yoga Is Expensive

One thing that people misconceive about yoga is thinking it has to be an expensive hobby. While pricey yoga studios have become popular over the years, yoga is one of those things that can be done at home. Tons of videos exist online to guide you through the poses. All you really need is space, and maybe a cheap yoga mat.

Dan Potter, Co-Founder, Craftd 

It is for Skinny People Only

One of the greatest (and craziest) misconceptions about yoga is that it's only for skinny people. This stereotype is probably perpetuated because every stock photo or promo video you ever see of a person during yoga is an ultra-fit, bendy person with next to no body fat. 

But anyone can do yoga, even someone with a bigger body size! You don't have to be super limber or weigh a small amount to get in on the benefits. I've converted my father into a yogi, and he is at least 30 pounds over his “ideal” weight.

Yoga is more about commitment and mindset than it is about flexibility or size.

John Ross, CEO, Test Prep Insight

There Are “Best” Yoga Poses

People think yoga is only a fitness practice when it can be so much more. One of the worst misconceptions I see is when yoga practitioners or teachers claim there are "better" and "worse" poses. Yoga doesn't include hierarchies; it is an open practice that focuses on individual ability and empowerment, not matching oneself to how something is "supposed to look." 

One of the core tenets of yoga is to respect and honor one's own body for what it can do without forcing it to do what it cannot. There are no "good" or "bad" ways to practice yoga, only what is right for you when you practice. 

Zach Goldstein, CEO & Founder, Public Rec

It's Not a Good Workout

I think many people see yoga as a light practice, but it's actually a great way to burn calories, build muscle, and improve strength and endurance. Many people also assume that yoga is easy, but the advanced poses can be a challenge to remain in. There are also many levels of yoga practices, from beginner to advanced.

Stephanie Venn-Watson, Co-Founder, Fatty15 

Learn more: Yoga for Upper Body Strength - Get Strong Without Lifting

One of the biggest misconceptions people make about practicing yoga is that it is easy and doesn't really classify as a workout. For starters, there are several yoga types, with some of them classified as high-intensity workouts, whereas others are low-impact workouts that force you to work on muscles you rarely target and can be intense and extremely beneficial workouts.

John Gardner, Co-Founder & CEO, Kickoff

Yoga is Not for Beginners

Although several yoga exercises are recommended for practitioners who have spent time mastering this artful exercise, ‌there are plenty of routines in yoga that even beginners can indulge in. 

People often make the mistake of dismissing yoga as exercise that is meant for those who are physically fit and flexible. The truth is quite the opposite—there are yoga poses and routines that even people suffering from ailments or with limited physical strength can practice. 

From people who have never resorted to physical exercise to patients suffering from conditions such as severe arthritis, there's a yoga routine for everyone!

Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Founding Director, Aspiring Families

Every Yoga Practice Is Spiritual

As somebody who regularly attends yoga, and has been guilty of it myself initially, people can often think that yoga will always go hand-in-hand with chanting and a more spiritual sort of guidance that some may feel uncomfortable with. 

The truth is, this can be a big part of a class, but the instructor may also not feature it at all. There are many variations, and it is about finding one that suits you best. Try a few different ones and see which works best for you. 

You can even message instructors and ask what the focus is on their classes. This won't be a new question for them, as they understand some focus more on the spiritual side, while others focus more on the practical, stretching aspect.

Alex Mastin, CEO & Founder, Home Grounds

It’s Always a Strenuous Workout

One common misconception about practicing yoga is that it has to be a strenuous workout. In reality, there are many gentle forms of yoga that can be practiced with little effort or even while seated in a chair! 

It's important to remember that the best kind of yoga practice is tailored to your individual needs. Yoga should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. Whether it's a more rigorous practice or a gentle one, the goal should always be to find balance and calm in your body and mind.

Erik Pham, CEO, Health Canal

Learn more: 3 Reasons to Use Yoga for Active Recovery

You Need to Be Flexible and Fit to Practice Yoga

I'd say the most common misconception about practicing yoga is that it is only for people who are already flexible or fit. 

Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and fitness, no matter your starting point. It can obviously be intimidating to start something new, but adopting a beginner's mindset and allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable allows you to gain a rich depth of experience in activities like yoga. 

It is important to remember that yoga is a journey, and progress is made over time with regular practice. It is also not just about achieving a certain level of flexibility or physical ability, but rather about finding a sense of peace and balance in the body and mind.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan, Owner, The Bircher Bar

Yoga is Only for Young People

I started practicing yoga when I was 54, and I can assure you that I am living proof that anyone of any age can benefit from yoga. I have seen people in their 70s and 80s twist themselves into complicated postures—not only do they look graceful, but I’ve also been told by many of them that regular yoga practice keeps them strong and pain-free. 

I know I can accomplish every pose with practice and persistence, sometimes even better than those who are a lot younger than me! I often remind myself that yoga isn’t about how flexible or strong I am; it’s about finding balance within, and the journey is just as important as the destination.

Derek Bruce, Sr. Director, Skills Training Group

All Yoga Is Slow

Many people view yoga as a slow-moving practice, but in actuality, there are different yoga practices. While most beginner classes are slow, as to introduce people to the basic movements, for more advanced students there are classes that move at a quick pace. If you're looking for a "fast"-paced class, look for Vinyasa yoga as opposed to Hatha or Ashtanga. Vinyasa classes get your heart rate up as you "flow" from one pose to another.

Kim Walls, CEO & Co-Founder, Furtuna Skin

It Will Automatically Make You Calmer and Happier

One misconception about practicing yoga is that it will immediately make you calmer and happier. First things first: yoga can reduce stress, enhance your mood, and boost your overall well-being, but it doesn't happen straight away. 

Like with most things of value, work for it. It's true that practicing yoga helps most people deal with mental and emotional issues, but change can be a time-consuming process with difficulties. 

Thanks to yoga practice, you also gain greater self-awareness, feel a better connection with the world, and take more mindful actions. It can lead to a calmer and happier life, but it is likely that you will have to wait for the fruits of your labor.

Agata Szczepanek, Community Manager, LiveCareer

Yoga is Only for Women

Many of my male clients believe that yoga is only for women. Though most yoga practitioners are women, yoga is for people of all genders. Men, women, and non-binary individuals can all benefit from regular yoga practice.

William Toro Quientero, Sports & Nutrition Editor, Welcyon

Ready to Learn More?

Whether you want to enhance your own practice or teach others, ISSA’s Yoga 200 has the content your need to increase your knowledge. As an ISSA Yoga 200 student, you’ll explore the ancient practice responsible for healing hearts, minds, and bodies around the world. As you learn to cultivate a deep sense of physical and mental well-being, you’ll root yourself in the knowledge and skills that help you share that with others. Start your journey today!

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