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Yoga is for Every Body — Breaking Down Your Misconceptions

Let's break down some of the beliefs and misconceptions about yoga so you can feel more confident about signing up for a session at Evoke Mind + Body.
Purple yoga mat in the Evoke Wellness yoga studio, Wilmington, NC

By Marisa Karoutsos

Most of us have been in a scenario like this: you have a friend who tells you that they just started yoga. A part of you lights up because you know how beneficial yoga is, and if your friend has started and loves it, you know you could too. But then you fill yourself with doubt, insecurities, and reasons why you believe yoga is not attainable for you or your body.

I am here to tell you that the voice in your head telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t try yoga is wrong. You have every right and all the power to come to a class or to start a practice. Wherever you are mentally, spiritually, or physically, there is a class out there that is designed for you and that will make you feel right at home.

I want to break some of these beliefs and misconceptions down, and hopefully, by the time you are done reading, you will feel more confident about signing up, rolling out your mat, and feeling the bliss we all do after yoga!

Purple yoga mat in the Evoke Wellness yoga studio, Wilmington, NC

Misconceptions About Starting Yoga

I need to lose weight first.

There is absolutely no weight requirement for yoga. You don’t have to arrive at your skinniest, most in shape, strongest self. There are no mirrors to distract you from your practice. Our space is designed to keep your focus inward and on your mat. If you bring some consistency to your practice, you might notice your body start to change. But ultimately, that isn’t why we are here. We are here to connect with ourselves and with our fellow yogis in the room. Everyone starts somewhere, and the thing about yoga is, where you start IS the right place to be. 

I’m not flexible or strong enough.

Not everyone is designed to touch their toes. Not everyone can do crazy backbends. Yoga is not meant to point out your flaws, it’s meant to help you grow. It’s meant to help you accept exactly who you are and where you are. Moving through the different asana (poses) and learning how to engage different parts of the body is how you gain flexibility and strength.

The beautiful thing is that along the way you can modify and use tools such as blocks, straps, and blankets. Your teacher is there to help guide you. Yoga is about accepting and appreciating your body and your life exactly how it is. It may happen naturally the more you practice, the stronger, more flexible, and more balanced your body will become. You don’t have to start that way.

I’m not into or good at meditation.

If you have a hard time meditating, don’t let that stop you! Meditation is a skill. It requires practice, focus, and time to get better at it. Coming to yoga and taking time even just once a week to give it a shot will absolutely help you improve this skill, and over time you’ll find that the length in which you keep your mind still will expand.

You don’t always know what will pop up for you during meditation. For some people, this is a scary thought, but it doesn’t have to be! We are not here to force you to focus on trauma or rehash anything. We are here to make space for stillness and to fill our hearts and minds with thoughts and ideas that are intentional. If a thought comes in that you are uncomfortable with, you can simply note it, and send it out the door. There is a time and a place for everything — your meditation time is a time for peace.

I will fall over or embarrass myself.

Every yogi in that space is there for their own practice. One thing we promise at Evoke Mind + Body is that you can be sure to go through your movements without judgment. Everyone falls sometimes. Even your teacher has wobbly days where things just aren’t working out. While this can feel discouraging in the moment, oftentimes poses have good days and bad days. Even opposite sides of the body have good days and bad days. You never have to be afraid of moving your mat close to a wall for a little support in case you worry about falling. If you have a day where a pose is giving you trouble, simply ask your teacher for ideas on other things to do, ways to use your tools to help, or listen to your body’s cues and do something different that feels good for you. Your teacher is there to be your guide, but your practice belongs to YOU. 

I’ve tried yoga before, but it didn’t feel right for me.

Finding a yoga class and instructor that feels right for your specific needs can feel kind of like finding the right therapist, doctor, or hairstylist. You may need to do a little shopping around to find the right fit. You will find that we all have different styles, ways of cueing things, and different paces in which classes progress. I encourage you to try again! Once you find the right fit, you will leave the room feeling good about everything that just happened, even the wobbly or silly moments.

close up of yoga foam block and towel on a mat in the Evoke Wellness yoga studio, Wilmington, NC.

The Benefits of Yoga

I have been a certified yoga instructor for almost six years now, and I have learned a lot through watching my students grow and watching their practices change. I want to take this moment to tell you about the different ways yoga can benefit you when practiced consistently. I also want to tell you how my classes go. If I sound like I could be a good fit for you, I sincerely encourage you to sign up for a class!

Physically, over time, you will notice a difference in how strong, flexible, and open you feel. If there is an area of the body, say the hips for example, that tends to give you trouble throughout the day, you will find that focusing on this part of the body, taking the time to move it, and breathing into it will ultimately help to make you more comfortable. Mentally and emotionally what you will hopefully find is some clarity. Taking the time to slow down, soften the heart, and focus the mind can help to shift the way you take the world in and the energy that you put out there.

The magic of the sacred tradition of yoga is that it is designed to connect the physical to the mental and emotional. We tap into certain areas to release certain things. Take the hips again as an example: we store a lot of our emotions and traumas in our hips. When we take the time to open that area, breathe into it, and release the stored-up “ish” that doesn’t serve us, we create space for something new! We create space to be open and free and to feel new emotions that will better serve us.

I am not a teacher who will ever preach toxic positivity. Life is not sunshine and rainbows, and yoga will not solve all of your problems at once. It is simply a piece of the puzzle and one way of many to help us better ourselves. During your practice, you will feel things and think things that don’t feel “zen” and that is okay! You are allowed to ask questions, you are encouraged to laugh through the tricky stuff (and if you need to let out an “adult” choice word or two, that’s cool with me). I will never make you feel silly for asking questions or encourage you to try something your body is not ready to handle. When I am teaching, I am there to offer suggestions, but (I can’t emphasize this enough) your practice belongs to you, and I promise to always honor and respect that.  No matter where you are physically, yoga is for you. Yoga truly is for everybody.

I sincerely hope that if you have been thinking about yoga or have done it in the past but have been nervous to pick it back up, you will consider joining us for a class or two. Looking forward to seeing you on the mat!

Sign up for yoga sessions at Evoke Mind + Body here.

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