Yoga: a few common misconceptions

I recently started practising yoga more regularly again after a few years of letting it fall by the wayside and, in many ways, it feels a bit like a homecoming.

Since first finding out about it back in high school and begging my parents to order me a beginners video through ‘Leserskring’, yoga has always been my favourite form of exercise.

As I’ve grown older, it’s also proven to be the only consistent antidote to my sporadic bursts of insomnia, a trustworthy mood booster and the most effective tool for self-acceptance (and, eventually, even love) I’ve ever come across.

Being so central to my general wellbeing (and daily life), yoga tends to come up in conversations quite regularly, which in turn, often exposes misconceptions about this practice/form of exercise (because, to me, it’s both).

Here are 5 common ones:

Continue reading

5 things I hate (to love) about yoga

yoga instructor

I was lying on my back, spine pressed flat against the floor, legs raised straight into the air, a wooden block squeezed between my thighs, hands interlaced at the base of my head and elbows pointing to the ceiling when I suddenly realised how much I hated yoga.

We weren’t even 10 minutes into class and already I wanted to burst into tears and give up.

“Squeeze your thighs together, lift the sit bones, suck in your stomach and on the out breath reaaach over to your left knee,” the instructor said… as though this was all completely natural.

On the ‘out breath?’ Lady, I have breathed in and out about 10 times in the eternity it took you to describe (or maybe rather prescribe) that movement.

And frankly if I raised my sit bones and sucked my stomach in any further my spine might cut right through my mat and leave an indentation on the wooden floor… which would hopefully distract everyone from the majestic fart that has been building in my bowels and will surely erupt with even the slightest added effort.

Controlling-farting-during-yoga(Image: theempoweredmomma)

This was it, I decided. Never again. I’d sell what remained of my year contract to some unsuspecting seeker of suppleness and turn my back on yoga forever. A decision I happened to have made the day before and the day before that… and frankly every day since I started yoga in October last year.

But before I knew it, the class was winding down and the teacher uttered the magic word: savasana. Corpse pose. The pose of total relaxation.

I lay on my back once more, this time feet flopping comfortably outward to the edges of my mat, arms spread wide, eyes closed, breathing even and calm and suddenly I loved it.

nap time

(Image: Yoga Haarlem)

I guess I just have to accept that, like most other newbie yogis and yoginis, I have a love-hate relationship with yoga.

Although I’ve dabbled in the practice for a couple of years, mostly attending the odd session at gym, I felt inspired to take it to the next level sometime last year and decided to join a studio instead.

My friend, Marli, was on a similar mission, so we set out on a grand studio search… which eventually led us to an unassuming little entrance squeezed between a Chinese restaurant and an estate agent, with a supplement shop close by and an upmarket shopping centre across the road: Hot Dog Yoga.

It is at this stylish, yet cozy, affordable, yet quality, serious, yet fun, strict, yet friendly second floor studio in Sea Point that I have started gaining insight into the gut-wrenching, limb-twisting, mind-stretching, balance-enhancing ancient discipline of yoga.

And also here that I am finding out new things about myself.

For instance, these 5 tings I simply hate to admit that I love about yoga:

joy-updog

(Image: Flyingyogini)

1. Yoga pants. I LOVE yoga pants. Certainly my own yoga pants, although they are pretty boring in black and grey. But mostly those groovy ones the instructors and cool yogis wear. The ones with pastel galaxies or neon aztec prints. I’ve promised myself that one day when I manage to do a headstand I might treat myself to a pair… and a floaty top to match. But that might take forever, so let’s settle on doing a proper crow pose instead. Okay? Okay.

2. Downward Dog. The classic yoga pose. And one I’ve detested for the longest time, because, well standing like an a-frame with your butt pointing to the ceiling, your legs like arrows, your spine like a poker, your head dangling down and your arms stretched strong in front of you is not really comfortable. However, the more you practice, the easier it gets. I’m finally at the point where I actually ENJOY getting into it. Weird.

#namaste #elephant #cute #yoga #yogaworks #valencia 🙏

A post shared by Yw Val (@ywval) on

3. Those damn instructors. They’re wacky and weird and far too flexible to be trusted… but they’re just so NICE! Never a raised voice, never a mean word, always encouragement and compliments… even when you strongly suspect your bird of paradise looks more like a crooked Karoo windmill.

4. The challenge. I have never been very good at seeing challenges through. I often find myself backing out of things just as the going gets tough. Not a good trait, I know. But yoga is changing that. It’s teaching me to ENDURE the pain and the awkwardness and the loss of balance and the strain, because there WILL come a time when I will be able to ENJOY the fruits of my effort and rock a handstand while floating on a surfboard. Obvs. Maybe not soon, but eventually.

5. Sweating during hot yoga. Yes, it’s pretty gross, but I get a major kick out of feeling little sweat drops trickle down my back and face during hot yoga classes (I even wrote a Pablo Neruda-inspired elemental-ode-esque poem about it once). It’s like detox made visible. Totally fascinating. Is that weird?

Do you practice yoga? What are your loves and hate?

P.s. If you’re looking for some motivation, check out Rachel Brathen aka Yoga Girl’s Instagram account. Who doesn’t want to be gorgeous like her?!