Most of us go to a yoga class (or practice at home) because we want to make a positive change in our lives. However, there are a number of very pervasive and extremely toxic myths about yoga that can really impact your experience of it.
This is one in a series of posts covering the most toxic myths, and how they might impact you. If you notice any of these cropping up – on or off the mat – consciously notice the thought process, and give yourself permission to release them from your experience of yoga!
Toxic Myth #3 – Yoga causes injuries
This one is a little contentious, because – of course – at any given moment, somewhere in the world, there is a person who is suffering from an injury they sustained in a yoga class.
However… that is not because yoga itself actually causes the injury.
The intention of yoga is to release stress from the body, certainly not to add any extra stress.
When injuries occur in yoga it’s usually due to either poor guidance from the teacher or the student pushing themselves too hard (often without realising), or a combination of both.
This one is close to my heart, because I have a few very dear friends who I know would benefit from practicing yoga and the only thing that holds them back is that they were once injured in a yoga class. They have made the assumption that yoga is dangerous, and that if it happened once, it will happen again. And I am sad for that person, that they are missing out on all the benefits of yoga because this fear is holding them back.
Especially because in my classes, which are super gentle, you would be hard- pressed to do yourself an injury! As my lovely regulars know, a lot of what we do is just lying down and sighing out. And the most important yoga pose is shavasana, that nice lying-down one at the end – pretty hard to sustain an injury there.
So, next time you notice a fear of injury (or an actual injury) come up on the mat, ask yourself why it has appeared. Are you perhaps pushing a little too hard? Why is that? Perhaps your inner critic has been chattering away again, telling you you’re not good enough, you need to do more. Maybe you noticed your neighbour going deeper in a pose, and you wanted to do the same.
If you notice this happening, ease off a little, and remind yourself that YOU are more important than your inner critic. It’s totally OK to stop doing a pose, or do an easier version, or even just lie down for the whole class. It’s totally OK if you’re not doing the same as your neighbour.
Remember: the physical part of yoga is really very tiny. You can skip that part completely any time you feel like it, and simply breathe. You are still an awesome yogi!
(Disclaimer: this is not to say you can stop taking care of yourself when you’re doing yoga – please keep up the good work, being mindful of your movements, moving slowly and with kindness to your body!)