5 Common Yoga Misnomers

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gumby does yoga

As a yogini with a well-developed sense of humor, I can laugh heartily at all the myths out there about us. Here are my five favorite Yoga Misnomers, because hey, we all love lists and it can be funny when people make blanket statements.

5 Yoga Myths + Misnomers:

1. Ew, isn’t yoga that tantric stuff?! They’re all a bunch of sex-crazed pervs!

Read up on Brahmacharya (moderation/celibacy) and get back to me on that one. But while your nose is buried in the Yoga Sutras, make sure to periodically look over your shoulder. I might be sneaking up to have my way with you! Rawwwwrr!

2. Look out for those crazy yogis! They’re into cults! Aaackk!!

There are yoga teachers who have a cult-like following, but we’re all on our own paths, with our own souls and minds. We love yoga. We’re dedicated to living a life by the 8 Limbs. This makes us wiser, kinder, more giving people. If this is a cult, you really might want to join. Don’t worry, we serve herbal tea, not Kool-Aid.

3. We abstain from bathing, but pile on the patchouli.

Somehow we get lumped in with (some) hippies of the 60s: yogis are hippy-dippy, dirty, and that sort of nonsense. Truth: We’re probably the cleanest people you’ll ever meet. We have to be. We sweat in our kick-asana classes, our mats get lots of action, so we wash them, too, and we’re generally fastidious beings. Also, we smell like lavender. Get it right.

4. We eat weird things.

Hmmm. I suppose spirulina, kale, and chia seeds could be considered strange, but if you knew how good they were for you, it would seem perfectly logical to incorporate them into your daily chow. Part of living the life of a yogi/yogini is keeping the body healthy and honoring it like the temple it is. We think it’s weird that you muggles like to eat crushed bugs (a component of red food dye), animal collagen (aka gelatin, found in gummy bears, marshmallows, jello, and a million other things), and calf stomachs (in all non-rennetless cheese). Ick!

5. We are all the offspring of Gumby.

This is semi-truthful for me, except I’m not green (sadly, a non-dominant genetic trait). I have a natural tendency toward bendiness, enhanced by a dance and sports background. That said, I know many, many yogis and yoginis who started out stiff as a board and with a little tenacity can now rock Kapotasana and Krounchasana with the best of them.

What silly myths or stereotypes have you met on your yogic path?

photo credit: Yoga Direct

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soothsayer. illusion slayer. intj/mastermind. writer + artist + strategist + innovator. california born, city of angels bred. gypset world traveler. la face with an oakland booty. queen of the jungle who doesn't lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

12 Comments to 5 Common Yoga Misnomers

  1. Yeah the main misconception is that Yoga is a religion. People think I am handing out leaflets at airports in my spare time.

    The other main misconception is that all yoga practise is some long contortion (preferably done while sitting on a bed of nails). Most people don’t know the variety of practises available that are as active as any aerobics course.

    As far as eating weird things, sign me up. I had a life 101 pounds heavier I gave up in 2001 when I switched to those weird things.

  2. Yoga is for spoiled rich girls! REAL MEN lift weights. Yoga’ll give a man the cooties, but if you was to wrastle instead, you could get yourself a nice case of ring worm or cauliflower ear. Yummy!

  3. I love your lists. I don’t fit into any of your “Yoga Misnomers” but maybe I’ll still too new to it. Yoga is one of the two best things I’ve found in recent years for leading a better life. Keep up the great work!

  4. I constantly hear that yoga is “just stretching.” Ugh. I respond with more information if the person seems open to it, but sometimes I just don’t even try. Maybe that’s wrong – but we’re not evangelists either!

    And I’ve been practicing a long time, but I’m sooooo not bendy. Thanks for setting that one straight!

  5. I live in Turkey. Many Turkish people, upon hearing the mention of yoga, like to make this joke/assumption: Oh, you do yoga? Like this? (Closes eyes, makes two peace signs, hums.)

    • Haha! The uninitiated are so quick to goof on us. ;) Little do they know, yoga encompasses all and EVERYTHING.