I am going to be writing frequent FAQ and About Yoga post’s and this is part 1! If anyone has a question, feel free to ask and I hope you like this post :)
Today’s Questions and Answers – 25 June 2016
1• What is Yoga?
2• Do you have to be flexible to start Yoga?
3• Is there any competition in Yoga?
1 – What is Yoga?
Yoga is many things, and the easiest way to describe it is as a philosophy and a physical activity/sport. The physical part of yoga is what most people think of when they hear the word ‘yoga’. Yoga as a physical activity involves ‘asanas’, or postures/poses. To eliminate confusion, when I talk about yoga, I am referring to the physical sport and when I mention the ‘study’ or ‘philosophy’ of yoga I am talking about yoga as a discipline.
While the Postures/Asanas are the most popular form of yoga – particularly in the Western World – it is important to understand that they are only a tiny ‘limb’ (aspect) and there are a lot of things in yoga that are equally as important, or more important than the asanas.
In summary, yoga is both a physical activity + sport, along with a philosophy and discipline. I will go into detail and explain the Asanas as well as the Philosophy and will update it into this page when I do!
2- Do you have to be flexible to start yoga?
This is one of the most asked questions that I find people ask. So many people think that they have to be flexible before they start practicing yoga. This simply is not the case at all. You do not have to be flexible before you start yoga, by doing yoga you gain flexibility. In my case, I started yoga with no flexibility and terrible body coordination. Through establishing a consistent yoga practice, over time I gained flexibility.
The truth is that not many people come into yoga already flexible, unless they have participated and excelled in a sport in their childhood such as dancing or gymnastics. Even then, each asana – particularly more advanced ones- take persistent practice and effort to execute. This is because a yoga journey is never complete – anyone who has not been in these poses before – no matter how flexible they are from another sport – will have to practice and work on perfecting specific asanas.
Never let the fact that you may not be flexible stop you from trying yoga because yoga is used as a tool to gain flexibility, and requires no previous history with flexibility.
“You do not need to be flexible to start yoga, you gain flexibility by starting yoga”
3- Is there any Competition in Yoga?
Something that a lot of people do not know until they delve right into the Philosophy and Study of yoga, is that there is absolutely no competition in the practice. No one is ever better than anyone – it does not matter how many years experience you have – everyone is equal in yoga.
Yoga is a never ending journey. No matter what, there is always going to be process to make and wisdom to learn, not matter how advanced you become. A yogi practicing yoga for a year has a lot of growth and learning to do, as does a yogi who has been practicing for three years or even ten.
Before I started practicing yoga, I used to be so competitive. I always had insecurities that arose from a competitive need to one-up people. After practicing yoga and allowing it to fully embrace me – and after I let go of my massive ego – I became so immune to any form of competition or self-comparison- and I can say, my life is so much more stress/anxiety free.
It’s important to remember that the ‘competition’ we have in our heads is nothing but an illusion – it is simply not the truth and the real fact of the situation is that you are competing with yourself in your own head.This will do nothing but produce stress for you.
At the very core of each of us – is the same spirit – but even though we are the same in this way, the fact is that every single person and each and every soul is so unique and there is no comparison. There is room for everyone in life and there is simply no need to constantly compete with anyone.
Never get frustrated when you see a yogi doing a pose that you can’t yet – put the effort in and work on achieving the pose over time – and you will soon progress to where you want to be. Keep in mind that there is no judgment and never let yourself lose motivation simply because you see a yogi doing a pose you can not.
The reason that I mention this is because when your first starting, you find yourself getting frustrated with your body when it cannot get into a pose you would like it to. Pushing your body into a pose it is not ready for will only result in injury – so make sure you keep your mind focused and acknowledge that there is no competition or judgment in yoga. I will cover this fully in the next question I upload to this page, which will be ‘Is there a lot of injury in yoga?’
“Yoga is a never ending, progressive journey. There is never any competition in yoga, and no one yogi is ever better than any other yogi”
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