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If yoga has taught me anything about fear, it’s that the truth is generally not as scary as what I’ve made it out to be in my mind. The more often I practice Handstand, for example, the less scared I am of it. I think the very same holds true for the practice as a whole– the more we challenge the things that might frighten us, the more we’ll see it for what it actually is: a highly private practice that can be customized to assist individuals from all strolls of life.
Here are the five scariest things I can think of about practicing yoga (and my musings regarding why they’re not so scary after all).
1. Yoga injuries
Injuring yourself doing something that is supposed to be recovery is pretty scary. The threat of injury in yoga is really genuine– both students and instructors make errors– however if you weigh the myriad advantages of the practice, it’s well worth the threat. Discovering an experienced instructor lowers the threat of injury. Devoting to honoring your own body and not pushing yourself into positions that don’t feel safe is even more crucial. For me, NOT practicing and instead dealing with the tension, physical discomfort, and monkey mind that accompany that are a lot scarier.
2. Power-hungry “masters”
I dislike hearing stories about yoga instructors who make the most of their relationships with students. As a trainee, you can choose to follow someone who proclaims to be an expert or you can simply discover a good instructor who you trust to guide you through presents and use some insights along the way. Either way, you ought to never hesitate to state “Nope. That does not appear like an excellent concept for me, instructor.”
3. Misinterpreting yoga
I’ll never forget the time I brought a good friend with me to a yoga class. We unrolled our mats in a crowded San Francisco studio and I saw my buddies eyes widen as she indicated the Shiva statue at the front of the space. “What is THAT !?” she asked. When I told her it was just a statue, she stated, “Well, I’m not going to worship it.” Okay. Neither am I. Yoga can definitely be a religious or spiritual experience if you desire it to be, however it is also existing in your body and your thoughts.
It holds true. Yoga teachers are out to get your money– that’s how they pay their bills. In reality, yoga has become such an industry that it sometimes feels that someone is trying to offer us something all over we turn. Costly yoga retreats, yoga leggings, yoga doodads. How do you know what you really need? Here’s a hint: You do not required any of it. Sadly, commercialism can shift the focus of the practice to things that don’t matter. However you do not have to buy into that. Focus on your practice– tune out the bells and whistles.
5. Not fitting in
It can be frightening to stroll into a room and feel like you stick out like an aching thumb. The good news is, there are instructors who are working diligently to make the practice more accessible are exposing the perception that you need to look a certain way or align with a specific stereotype to practice. Yoga is for every body, no matter what your shape, size, age, or gender.
This post has actually been upgraded. Initially published October 23, 2012.
About our contributor
Erica Rodefer Winters is an author and yoga teacher in Charleston, SC. Visit her blog site, Spoiledyogi.com, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.