Ten years ago, the thought of yoga may have caused your mind to conjure up images of tie-dye-wearing, granola-eating hippies seeking enlightenment while bending their bodies in completely inexplicable ways.
Maybe you tried a class once with your super spiritual friend, but that was enough inner peace for you for the year.
Either way, you've probably heard stereotype after stereotype about yoga, and all the namaste-chanting yogis out there.
Personally, as an instructor, I suppose I can't help but be biased about the many benefits of yoga, but come on. Why else would over 30 million Americans practice yoga on a regular basis if it didn't do amazing things for your body (and your mind)?
Still, I fully aware of the myriad of myths and misconceptions surrounding this powerful practice.
Whether you're a devoted yogi, or you're just beginning your journey on the mat, you've probably heard a handful of these stereotypes and misguided notions.
Here are 10 myths about yoga I'd like to bust once and for all, and replace with one simple fact.
Yoga is for everyone.
1. Yoga Is Just About Stretching
While muscle recovery and increased flexibility are two amazing benefits of a consistent yoga routine, yoga is not simply just about stretching.
In sanskrit, yoga means "union" -- union of mind, body, spirit, breath, and the surrounding environment.
Think of your happy hamstrings and bendy back as a plus on top of so many other benefits that come with this powerful ancient practice.
2. You Have To Be Super Fit To Take A Yoga Class
As inspiring as all the incredible yoga Instagram accounts are, they can be very intimidating to a beginner stepping on the mat.
Most of these accounts feature sculpted abs and toned triceps -- beautiful traits of some yogis, but completely unnecessary for anyone looking simply on the lookout for a solid vinyasa flow.
A six-pack is not required to step into your nearest studio. Yoga is for everyone and every body.
3. You Need To Attend A 90-Minute Class To Do Yoga
While a 60- to 90-minute flow in a studio can be great, most people simply don't time for that.
Research shows that a simple 20-minute bout of yoga improves focus, memory, and brain function, providing the same lasting effects of a full-length studio sesh.
Try starting your day with a set of sun salutations. A few minutes of mindful movement is better than nothing -- and a lot easier to stick with.
4. Yoga Isn't For Dudes
This is just false.
In fact, yoga actually began as a primarily male-practiced movement, so they definitely deserve a little credit, and certainly some space next to you in your yoga class.
5. Yogis Are All Spiritual AF
Yes, yoga is a deeply spiritual practice, but by no means do you have to identify yourself as a "spiritual person."
The true beauty of yoga is that it serves you wherever you are in life, regardless of spirituality.
Whether you're looking to find a more focused awareness of yourself or of life, or you want to get your body moving in some cool ways, believe me, yoga is for you.
6. Yogis Don't Eat Meat
I can assure you, you're not any less of a yogi if you indulge in a double cheeseburger post-downward-dog.
And if you love indulging in a tasty veggie burger after your flow, no shame there, either.
So, because of that, many yogis choose to be vegetarian or vegan. But you're definitely not required -- and you absolutely shouldn't be shunned from the yoga community -- if you happen to love a good BLT.
You do you, dude.
7. You Have To Be Flexible To Practice Yoga
This one gets me heated AF.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they "would practice yoga, but they can't even touch their toes," I would be a f*cking millionaire.
Yoga builds strength, flexibility, and balance, and it's there to serve and adapt to you and your body -- not the other way around.
8. Yoga Is Only Good For A Rest Day
Yes, a restorative class can make for a lovely rest day after an intense week of heavy weight-lifting.
But have you ever tried a 105-degree Bikram class? Try it out and let me know how you feel after.
Again, yoga can serve your body in just about any way you want.
If you are looking for something to keep you moving just a little on your rest day, opt for a more gentle class, such as yin yoga.
9. Your Medical Condition Will Stop You From Doing Yoga
It may seem like yoga isn't for you if you have some sort of physical, or even mental restriction, but I can assure you, the practice can absolutely be accessible for anyone of any age or condition.
Take what you need, and mold the practice to both fit and benefit your own lifestyle.
10. Yoga Is Risk-Free
Last, but certainly not least, just because yoga is considered a low-impact exercise does not mean it is totally risk-free.
With a good instructor and attention to alignment, you can surely reap the benefits of yoga, sans injuries.
But it is always important to be mindful and listen to your body. Going too far and too fast into poses can lead to uncomfortable strains and pesky pulls.