When I first started yoga last year, I felt the need to take photos of all the poses I do. When I could finally reach my toes, I sure did take a photo of that. As the weeks passed and eventually turned into months, the novelty of the practice started to fade, and I felt less and less the need to post my photos on IG. This led me to realize that yoga isn’t just about the postures, but what you really learn on the way to making one. That’s just one among three other misconceptions I had about yoga—part of the things one has to constantly unlearn.
MISCONCEPTION #3: You will achieve peace when practicing yoga
The realization crept onto me as I was having a panic attack mid-chaturanga dandasana in Vinyasa class. This was during my symptomatic days, when the bipolar bug could still get into my stream of thought. I don’t remember exactly why I had a panic attack (probably because of the heat), but after calming down I “discovered” that yoga postures aren’t the way to peace.
MYTA, WERE THOSE OTHER ARTICLES ON PEACE AND YOGA A LIE? No. It’s the writer’s interpretation and wording, and their ideas to me are valid. But here’s my take on it: Peace is not a destination. Peace is not a goal; peace is the practice. And so I figured, when did peace become something tangible? You can’t “achieve” peace until you come into terms with yourself that every action you make is an act of peace (unless you’re obviously doing something wrong!) and devote your practice enhancing your peaceful self.
MISCONCEPTION #2: Yoga can only be done at a studio
Before I heard about the different types of yoga—and I don’t mean Hot, Yin, and Vinyasa—I only knew about Hot, Yin, and Vinyasa. After further research (i.e. Googled it), there are actually deeper types of yoga that don’t mean Hot, Yin and Vinyasa.
Hot, Yin, and Vinyasa are all part of hatha yoga—the practice of certain postures to keep the body in good health. Then there’s karma yoga, wherein you use your healthy body to be in service to other people and yourself without vested interests (ex. everyday random acts of kindness, volunteering to clean up the shoreline, walking your neighbor’s dog). Bhakti yoga is allowing your karma (actions) to be daily devotions to God, Allah, your Higher Self, or whatever Superior Being you believe in. Jnana yoga is, after acknowledging that there is a Higher Being and your past good actions are favored by HB, the studying and understanding of HB. Finally, there is raja yoga, where all these other yogas are culminated and you begin to understand that there is no other life but a life in the service of HB.
The world is your yoga studio. Be good out there.
MISCONCEPTION #1: Practicing yoga will change you
Uh… no. External factors don’t change a person. It’s one’s will, one’s divine plan, one’s decision to get out of his limitations, comfort zone… whatever you want to call it. It’s basically getting out of that vicious cycle you’ve been living in for the past two decades. Practicing yoga just helps you do yoga so you can eventually be yoga. Remember, yoga means “union,” so your decision to be one with the universe is already your decision to change. More importantly, hatha yoga is the way for us to get ready to meditation, and it’s also a kind of moving meditation. It gets us ready to receive the light from the universe. It’s a way for us to remember that we are peace, joy, and love.
To my readers out there, have you had misconceptions of your own before stepping on the mat? I’d love to hear from you!
Om shanti shanti shanti,
Myta, the lemon water